The freedom of India and Pakistan from British rule was the beginning of another era filled with chaos, confusion, hatred, conflict. The people of the two countries feared the social and political turmoil which they had undergone. To make the situation worse, new political, social, and economic problems erupted, straining relations between the two countries.
When the British viceroyalty of India gained its independence in August 1947, it was divided into two new states, India and Pakistan, the former with a Hindu majority and the latter with a Muslim majority. Under the terms of the partition, the 562 independent princely states, including the state of Jammu and Kashmir, were free to choose association with either India or Pakistan, a choice usually dictated by the majority religion in the state. In Kashmir, however, while three-quarters of the population was Muslim, the Maharaja was Hindu, and his delay in making a choice between India or Pakistan not only provoked internal religious violence but Muslim Pathan tribesmen also invaded from what was to become Pakistani territory. Eventually, on 22 October 1947, the Indian Army moved forward to prevent the Pathan advance, an intervention which, in turn, drew the Pakistani Army into the conflict.
India asked the United Nations to intervene on 31 December 1947 and therefore, on 20 January 1948, Security Council Resolution (39) created the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The planned composition was objected by both the parties which resulted in a second Resolution (47). This was agreed to by the Security Council on 21 April 1948, which was acceptable to both parties and the first members of UNCIP arrived in the region on 7 July. By 13 August they had worked out a process to implement and observe a cease-fire, a proposal that was ultimately accepted and brought into force by India and Pakistan on 1 January 1949. The first seven observers arrived three weeks later, and most of the rest were in place by the end of February.
This deployment was made with the consent of the two parties and was based on strict principles of impartiality and non-interference. From the outset, UNMOGIP’s observers were posted on both sides of the Line of Control, the name given to the cease-fire line agreed to in 1949, and their task was to observe and report on compliance with that agreement.
On 14 March 1950, with the cease-fire holding along the Line of Control, the Security Council passed Resolution 90, which terminated UNCIP and instead appointed a UN Special Representative to assist the two nations in demilitarizing Kashmir as a prelude to finding a permanent solution to the territorial dispute there: both sides continued to argue that they should own territory on the “other” side of the Line of Control. But observers would remain – now as an independent organization, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
Forbidden from intervening, their presence did not prevent the outbreak of war between India and Pakistan in 1965 or again in 1971. India’s success in the latter war changed the location of Line of Control and led India to argue that UNMOGIP’s mandate had now lapsed, but despite the fact that the original UN intervention was based on the principle of consensus, the Secretary-General ruled that only the UN Security Council could terminate UNMOGIP, which it has yet to do.
The role played by UNO in resolving the India-Pakistan conflict has varied depending on the nature of the dispute. It thus deserves a case by case analysis.
1. Kashmir dispute:
Role—After the independence of India in August 1947 the northern-most state of India Jammu and Kashmir was free to accede to either India or Pakistan. When it accedes to India, the matter became of bone-of-contention between the two nations. UNO was called in to interfere considering the ongoing violence, and in January 1948 the Security Council adopted resolutions, the Security Council had adopted resolution establishing the UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan)—where observers were used to stop the fighting between two nations.
Result—Karachi agreement signed by India and Pakistan declaring the formation of UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan).
**The Ceasefire Line that was drawn finally in 1949 provided the home for the future battleground between the two nations. This 700-km-long line running from Chammb in the south to Ladakh at NJ 9842 point after which there is a glacier, provided the future frontline between the two countries in the glaciers. Through the war, Pakistan acquired 5,000 square miles of India’s territory and nearly one million people under its control.
- The most festering among all, the principle of resolution are embedded in the historic miscalculation done by India, firstly by bringing it up to UN and secondly by placing it in Chapter 6that diluted the chance of considering Pakistan as an aggressor.
- As a result, the UN role in this dispute has largely been advisory.
- United Nations had decided to conduct a plebiscite respecting the desires of the people in this region, which was never conducted as Pakistan refused to withdraw (considering the popularity of Sheikh Abdullah); and hence the dispute fostered ever since.
- This also depicted the failure of the UNO to contain Pakistan’s hostility, and also the incompetency that fostered the issue rather than solving it. However, with the signing of the Shimla agreement in 1972 the jurisdiction of UNMOGIP was curtailed as agreement provided for bilateral negotiation for resolution of disputes without any third-party interference.
- Indus Agreement: UN played a proactive role that not only helped resolve the water distribution issue but also created a template for resolution of trans boundary water sharing. Its existence for the last 55 years clearly attests to its success.
- Since the ratification of the treaty in 1960, India and Pakistan have not engaged in any water wars. Disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. The treaty is considered to be one of the most successful waters haring endeavors in the world today even though analysts acknowledge the need to update certain technical specifications and expand the scope of the document to include climate change.
- According to the Indus water treaty (1960), India can use only 20% of the total water carried by the Indus river system. This water is used for irrigation in Punjab.
- Sir and Cori Creek Issue:
Role—In early 1965, relations between India and Pakistan were strained again because of their conflicting claims over the Rann of Kutch at the southern end of the international boundary. The situation steadily deteriorated during the summer of 1965, and, in August, military hostilities between India and Pakistan erupted on a large scale along the ceasefire line in Kashmir.
- Tashkent Agreement between India and Pakistan leading to the withdrawal of troops from the disputed regions under the supervision of UNMOGIP and UNIPOM.
- Despite Pakistan pressing for UN-led mediation in ascertaining the boundary, the UN has largely sided with India by pushing for a bilateral resolution, thus respecting India’s sovereignty.
- Terrorism: UNSC has frequently declared Pakistan as a hotbed of terrorism. Through various resolutions various Pakistan outfits like Jamat-ud-Dawahave been banned. Terrorists like Dawood Ibrahimtoo have been served with Red corner notice.
On the whole, it can be said that the UN has largely sided with India except in certain instances where we have made certain diplomatic miscalculations and also some less insightful appreciations from the part of UNO itself.
India thus needs to tread cautiously so as not to allow any leverage to Pakistan as the UN by itself has followed the principle laid down by India.
“The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has not directly observed any firing across the LoC related to the latest incidents.”
–Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
The above is a quote from the Daily Mail, a newspaper in Pakistan.
The following facts are probably not known to many.
- The UN observer groups are not located at any of the border posts or formations. So, their knowledge of an operation would be limited to the information available through media and other sources only.
- In case any country wishes to bring to the notice of the group any conflagration they are ushered to the area for observations.
So, the UNMOGIP gave a report that they have not observed any such operations. This is a statement of facts from their side. It may be noted that they have not ruled out any such operations. But the Indian public couldn’t care less about the UNMOGIP statement. We absolutely have no doubts on this matter.
Pakistan has time and again provided all support to UNMOGIP and keeps feeding false information to the UN through them. But India has maintained that UNMOGIP has NO mandate in Kashmir but still tolerates their presence. India pushes for bilateral resolution while Pakistan is trying to wedge in the UN body, still.
– Eepsa Bansal,
Writer, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata