UN Appoints New Military Observer for India and Pakistan

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

The UN has demanded an unconditional access to Kashmir to record the extent of human rights violations in the troubled state.

By Rakesh Raman

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced Tuesday the appointment of Major General José Eladio Alcaín of Uruguay as Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

Major General Alcaín will succeed Major General Per Gustaf Lodin of Sweden, who will complete his two-year assignment in July 2018. A UN statement said the Secretary-General is grateful to Major General Lodin for his contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts.

The decision comes close on the heels of a new report by the UN Human Rights Office that suggests there is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, which is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.

“It is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Zeid also has urged to establish a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.

Recently, a veteran Congress leader Saifuddin Soz suggested that Kashmiris will “prefer to be independent” if they are given a choice to express their free will.

Soz endorsed former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s assessment over a decade ago that Kashmiris will prefer freedom instead of living as citizens of India. He also criticized Indian government for diluting Kashmir’s autonomy that was enshrined in Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

Meanwhile, the UN has demanded an unconditional access to Kashmir to record the extent of human rights violations in the troubled state. While presenting a global update on human rights concerns at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, Zeid reiterated his calls for access to Kashmir.

Similarly, troubled by extreme human rights violations in Kashmir, a British Parliamentary Group has decided to release a report on this issue.

Chris Leslie MP, Chairperson All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir chaired the meeting a few days ago to discuss the state of unrest in Kashmir.

Kashmir has always been a conflict area between India and Pakistan since 1947 when both these countries got freedom from the British rule. In order to stake their claims over Kashmir, India and Pakistan have fought two bloody wars in 1965 and 1971, besides incessant skirmishes between the rival armies.

Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to internationalize the burning Kashmir issue as local Kashmiris are facing the wrath of Indian security forces.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman