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India, Pakistan spar over UN mission in Kashmir

United Nations, Jan 22, 2013 (PTI):
Indian army soldiers stand guard at the last Indian post near near the Line of Control (LOC), the line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Silikot some 130 Kilometers (81 miles) north of Srinagar, India, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Pakistan accused Indian troops on Wednesday of killing one of its soldiers along the disputed Kashmir border, in the latest of a series of tit-for-tat attacks that threaten to ratchet up tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. In New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that his country's relations with archrival Pakistan 'cannot be business as usual.' AP

India and Pakistan got into a verbal exchange at the Security Council on relevance of the UN observer group at LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, with India stressing the force's role has been "overtaken" by subsequent agreements signed by the two nations under which they resolved to settle differences "through bilateral negotiations".

The exchange occurred during a UN Security Council open debate on peacekeeping, which was organised by Pakistan under its current Presidency of the 15-nation powerful UN body.

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 - the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). This Mission has played an important role in monitoring peace along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir," Jilani said.

The reference to UNMOGIP was rejected by India's Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri, who suggested that 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.

"In times of austerity, we need to address the question whether the resources being spent on UNMOGIP would not be better utilised elsewhere," Puri said in his remarks at the debate, which was initially supposed to be presided over by Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

The Pakistani Supreme Court had last week ordered the arrest of Ashraf in connection with a corruption scandal.

Puri stressed that under the Simla agreement, the two countries had resolved to settle difference "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.


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