Uruguay army veteran is new chief
United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a veteran Uruguay Army general as the chief military observer of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, which New Delhi says has outlived its utility and relevance after the Shimla Agreement.
Major General Jose Eladio Alcain will succeed the incumbent UNMOGIP chief Major General Per Gustaf Lodin of Sweden, who will complete his two-year assignment this month, an official statement said.
Alcain had a distinguished career with the Uruguayan Army since 1977. Most recently, he held the position of Director of the National Health Service of the Armed Forces.
The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Lodin for his contribution to UN’s peacekeeping efforts.
The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was established in January 1949 with first team of unarmed military observers arriving in Jammu and Kashmir to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan, and to assist the Military Adviser to the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), established in 1948 by the UN Security Council.
Following the India-Pakistan war in 1971 and a subsequent ceasefire agreement, the tasks of UNMOGIP have been to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of December 17, 1971 and to report to the Secretary-General.
India has maintained that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Shimla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson has said that the UNMOGIP has been instrumental in ensuring problems in the region “do not spin out of control”.
Speaking about the mission’s usefulness and relevance, Guterres’ Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here that a mission such as the UNMOGIP has for decades “been instrumental in making sure that certain problems in the region don’t spin out of control”.
He said the UNMOGIP continues to do the task it has been mandated to do since the late 1940s.
In response to a question on the Human Rights chief calling for a high-level independent international probe into the situation in Kashmir, he said the human rights report has gone to the Human Rights Council and it will be up to the UN agency to determine what follow-up action was needed.
The UN Human Rights Office had in a report on Kashmir last month said that there was an urgent need to address alleged human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in Pakistan administered Kashmir.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had recommended establishing a commission of inquiry.