India and Pakistan clashed at the Security Council over the relevance of the UN Military Observer Group on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir with New Delhi saying it has been “overtaken” by the 1971 Simla Accord and Islamabad insisting the force still had a role.
The exchange of words occurred during a UN Security Council open debate on peacekeeping, organised by Pakistan under its current Presidency of the 15-nation powerful UN body. The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was set up in 1949 to supervise the ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC.)
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 — UNMOGIP. This Mission has played an important role in monitoring peace along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir,” Jilani said.
The reference to the UN force was rejected by India’s Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri, who suggested 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.” He said.
“In times of austerity, we need to address the question whether the resources being spent on UNMOGIP would not be better utilised elsewhere,” Puri added in his remarks at the debate, which was initially supposed to be presided over by Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Puri stressed that under the Simla agreement, the two countries had resolved to settle differences “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.
UNMOGIP observers have been stationed at the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 1949 and supervise the ceasefire between the two neighbours.