The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan
In January 1948, UN Security Council Resolution 39 established the UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to send unarmed military observers to mediate and investigate the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir; these observers eventually evolved into the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Currently 41 military observers, 23 international civilian personnel and 47 local civilian staff monitor the ceasefire. In 1971, a resurgence of hostilities in the region ended when India and Pakistan reached a ceasefire agreement that UNMOGIP monitors.
The Mission's mandate includes:
• Monitoring the ceasefire;
• Investigating complaints of ceasefire violations; and
• Submitting its findings to each party and to the Secretary-General.
The border between Indian and Pakistan has been the site of numerous skirmishes since partition in 1947. In the past 65 years three wars have been fought over Kashmir, a region to the northwest of India and to the northeast of Pakistan, and numerous smaller conflicts have arisen. The UN has established two different missions in the area, first the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and then the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in 1951 after the ceasefire following the first Kashmiri War. Conflict arose between two nations again in 1971, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh. The Mission continues to monitor the ceasefire line today.
In 1947, the British withdrew from India, and the former territory was partitioned into India and Pakistan. The two nations contested the ownership of Jammu and Kashmir, a state that lies on the border of the two nations. When a Muslim uprising occurred in Kashmir; the raj of Kashmir agreed to accede to India in return for military aid to put down the rebellion.
This initial conflict, now referred to as the First Kashmir War, set the stage for the next 65 years of tension. It also prompted the intervention of the United Nations in January 1948 with the establishment of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to mediate the dispute. In 1951 UNCIP’s mandate ended, but the Security Council decided to keep a team of observers in country to monitor the ceasefire. Resolution 91 mandated United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to observe and report ceasefire violations to each party and to the Secretary-General.
Twenty years later, in 1971, a freedom movement arose along the south east boarder of Pakistan and north east of India. The war would culminate in the creation of Bangladesh.
The fighting ceased with an agreement in December 1971.The Security Council required all forces to leave the border region and to respect the ceasefire line as monitored by UNMOGIP. In July 1972, the two countries signed a new agreement on the Line of Control in Kashmir; much of the agreement was consistent with the 1949 ceasefire agreement.
A number of conflicts have occurred along the border since the 1970s. A Kashmiri insurgency arose in late 1989 and again India and Pakistan clashed during the Kargil War in 1999. Tensions remain between the two nations, but it does not seem likely that another major conflict will occur in the near future.
How This Affects American Interests
- Supports regional stability. While the US Government works to maintain a good relationship with both allies, it also recognizes the value of peaceful relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan are significant, nuclear powers, located in a region of particular significance to the US. Both countries border Afghanistan, the site of a major US military operation, and both countries have the potential to provide a safe haven for terrorists. Already the significance of Pakistan has been shown through the discovery of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan. By monitoring and reporting on activities on the India-Pakistani border, the mission provides information as well as continued vigilance which can act as a safeguard for a potential decline in relations and instability between the two nations.
- Promotes dialogue. As long as tension remains between India and Pakistan, both governments will continue to spend an inordinate amount of their budget on defense of their border of Kashmir, rather than on development or security issues that have an international impact. If relations improve, Pakistan and India’s strategic priorities would change and the US would have a more effective partnership. The U.S. and the UN promote these talks in order to improve relations, build confidence, and resolve the dispute over Kashmir. UNMOGIP plays a key role in their success by reducing the possibility that conflict might derail the Composite Dialogue Talks resumed in July 2011 after the 2008 Mumbai bombings, when India and Pakistan's foreign ministers met to discuss Kashmir. In September 2012, India’s foreign minister visited Pakistan to continue talks. The two nations have made strides in loosening travel restrictions decreasing trade restrictions, and opening up economic and commercial collaboration. Talks will continue in 2013; both governments have expressed their plan to continue opening trade.
- Tensions in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. After four years, in July 2012, Indian officials again accused Pakistani state actors of being involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In 2008, terrorists coordinated 11 attacks, using both bombs and guns, killing 173 and wounding 300. India accused the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a militant Islamic group from Pakistan, of being responsible for the attacks; Pakistan has acknowledged that the LeT were behind the attacks, but denies any state involvement. Information has arisen, during the trials of the accused that before the attacks, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Pakistani government’s intelligence branch, was in contact with the LeT terrorists responsible for the attacks. Furthering tensions arose in 2011 when terrorists open fired on crowds and set off three bombs near the Mumbai opera house killing more than 150 people. While talks have begun between Pakistan and India again, political tension remains between the two nations.
- No Progress on Kashmir. Despite the opening of relations, India and Pakistan have not attempted to develop a strategy for Kashmir. At the recent UN General Assembly, India emphasized their nation’s right to Kashmir and condemned Pakistan for raising the issue in an earlier speech. Given India and Pakistan’s nuclear status, this prolonged tension continues the risk of nuclear weapons landing in the wrong hands, a concern for both the U.S. and the international community. UNMOGIP is continuously engaged on the Kashmiri border, reporting on the situation. While over all the security situation has improved in Kashmir, skirmishes continue. Most recently, on October 1, five alleged militants were gunned down by the Indian army. Additionally attacks have increased on sarpanchs or elected village council heads, ten have been killed in the past two years. An estimated 70,000 people have died over Kashmir since 1990.
*Updated November 2012