October 2001 News

UN force in Kashmir moves to Pak territory

30 October 2001
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: The UN observer force in Kashmir was completing a scheduled move on Tuesday to Pakistan, one day after its chief rebuked New Delhi and Islamabad for ''playing games'' with the disputed region.The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was to begin a six-month stay in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi after spending half the year in Srinagar.The UNMOGIP has been monitoring the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan since 1948. The small force has divided its time between Srinagar and Rawalpindi since 1951.On Monday, UNMOGIP chief Hermann K. Loidolt caused a stir when he stepped beyond the normally neutral tone adopted by the monitoring group and spoke of ''games both parties are playing with this tormented country.''The reference to Kashmir as a ''country'' was, in itself, guaranteed to upset India, which insists that Kashmir is an integral part of its sovereign territory.''Whatever the reason is for playing political games, may it be a diversionary manoeuvre on the Pakistani side to make India the real enemy instead of the US, or may it be the dawning of the next election in India, it will be an issue for the US to solve,'' Loidolt said.Loidolt''s statement marked the first time the UNMOGIP has taken a political stand on the Kashmir dispute.While the number of clashes on the LoC has remained roughly normal in the past months, Loidolt predicted that ''the situation will become more tense in the time coming, not only along the LoC but also in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir state.''Earlier this month, India shelled 11 Pakistani posts in what it called a ''punitive'' action against infiltrators planning violence inside the state.Some Indian officials, including Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, have called for India to strike at alleged training camps across the LoC used by Muslim militants in Jammu and Kashmir.


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