United Nations: India and Pakistan got into a verbal exchange at the Security Council on relevance of the UN observer group at LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, with India stressing the force's role has been "overtaken" by subsequent agreements signed by the two nations under which they resolved to settle differences "through bilateral negotiations".
The exchange occurred during a UN Security Council open debate on peacekeeping, which was organised by Pakistan under its current Presidency of the 15-nation powerful UN body.
Presiding over the debate was Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, who said his country has been a "proud participant" in peacekeeping missions.
"Pakistan is also host to one of the oldest UN peacekeeping missions - the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). This Mission has played an important role in monitoring peace along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir," Jilani said.
The reference to UNMOGIP was rejected by India's Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri, who suggested that it would be better to spend resources allocated for the observer group elsewhere in difficult economic times.
"Suffice it to point out that UNMOGIP's role has been overtaken by the Simla Agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan, signed by the Heads of the two governments and ratified by their respective parliaments.
"In times of austerity, we need to address the question whether the resources being spent on UNMOGIP would not be better utilised elsewhere," Puri said in his remarks at the debate, which was initially supposed to be presided over by Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
The Pakistani Supreme Court had last week ordered the arrest of Ashraf in connection with a corruption scandal.
Puri stressed that under the Simla agreement, the two countries had resolved to settle difference "by peaceful means" through bilateral talks.
At the end of the debate, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Masood Khan, speaking in his national capacity, responded to Puri's remarks saying that no bilateral agreement between the two nations has "overtaken or affected" the role or legality of the observer group.
"The UNMOGIP continues to monitor the ceasefire in accordance with Security Council resolution, its mandate is therefore fully valid, relevant, and operative," Khan said.
Counsellor Manish Gupta from the Indian mission took the floor again, saying he is "constrained" to put forward the "factual position" concerning the UN force.
Gupta said UNMOGIP's role was to supervise the cease-fire line which was established in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of the Karachi Agreement of 1949. "That cease-fire line no longer exists" as a new cease-fire line came into existence on 17 December, 1971.
Gupta added that following the Simla Agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan, "the two countries resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations."
The Simla agreement also stipulated that the LoC resulting from the ceasefire of December 1971 should be respected by both sides.
"Subsequently, the Line of Control was delineated in Jammu and Kashmir in pursuance to that agreement with approval of both the governments. Thus, UNMOGIP's role has been overtaken by these developments," Gupta said.
Khan responded saying that "the fact is that both India and Pakistan are hosting UNMOGIP".
Tensions escalated between India and Pakistan over firing and clashes earlier this month at the LoC in which Pakistani troops killed two Indian soldiers. Pakistan had complained to the UN observer force claiming that Indian troops had allegedly crossed the LoC and "raided" a border post.
UNMOGIP had said it would conduct an investigation in accordance with its mandate.
India had outrightly rejected Pakistan's proposal for a UN investigation into the LoC incident saying New Delhi would not "internationalise the issue or allow the United Nations to hold an inquiry."
UNMOGIP observers have been located at the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 1949 and supervise the ceasefire between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Currently there are 39 military observers in Kashmir, 25 international civilian personnel and 48 local civilian staff.
Pakistan would complete its two-year term at the 15-nation body this year end. India's two years at the Council as a non-permanent member ended in December.