Pakistan’s former permanent representative at the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi delivers a lecture on Wednesday. ISSI Director General Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry is also seen. — Online
Pakistan’s former permanent representative at the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi delivers a lecture on Wednesday. ISSI Director General Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry is also seen. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan saved the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) by foiling multiple attempts to cut its budget.

This was disclosed by Pakistan’s former permanent representative at the United Nations in New York Dr Maleeha Lodhi, who has recently returned after completing her tenure.

“We have been able to thwart a number of sinister attempts to cut UNMOGIP’s budget over the last few years which could have led to it being disbanded,” Dr Lodhi said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on ‘Pakistan and the UN: Challenges and Opportunities of Multilateralism’.

She said the UNMOGIP’s role had become more significant in view of the increased ceasefire violations by India. According to the figures last shared by ISPR on Oct 27, 2019, India had breached ceasefire 2,608 times. There have been several more violations since then.

United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOGIP) is one of the oldest peace keeping missions deployed by the world body. It has been in Kashmir since January 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan under the Security Council Resolutions 39 and 47.

UNMOGIP is financed through the regular UN budget. It should be recalled that the group’s budget for 2018-19 was cut by 11.39pc. The cuts had hit its field trips and operating budget. Pakistan has been extending full cooperation and unfettered access to the observers and has been asking UN to strengthen their role.

India, meanwhile, does not allow UNMOGIP to fully function according to its mandate and report to the Security Council. New Delhi doesn’t accept the mandate of the UNMOGIP. India argues that under Shimla Accord it had agreed with Pakistan to resolve all disputes, including Kashmir, bilaterally.

India evicted UNMOGIP from its offices in Delhi in 2014. Indian approach on UNMOGIP has been to prevent the observers from investigating the complaints on its side.

Speaking about the unresolved Kashmir dispute, Dr Lodhi said it is “Pakistan’s core foreign policy priority; it remains front and centre of our engagement at the UN”.

She said UN’s failure to enforce its 11 resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir was affecting public perceptions in Pakistan about the world body and its utility. She also noted that increased skepticism about the UN was not specific to Pakistan and could be witnessed all over the world.

“Much of this disillusionment is directed or focused on the peace and security pillar of the UN which is the responsibility of the Security Council. As the world’s premier crisis management body, the council is widely seen to have fallen short on its principle role. Its failure to resolve longstanding disputes and ongoing crises and in the case of Kashmir, to enforce its own resolutions, are all seen as glaring aspects of persistent failures,” the former envoy maintained.

This, she said, is happening at a time when multilateralism is facing new threats and challenges, and has been in retreat as a result of major powers rejecting or renouncing treaties or walking out of international bodies.

The former Pakistani envoy said whatever its drawbacks, multilaterism is needed more, especially when a rules-based international system was under assault. An important way to strengthen multilaterism would be to strengthen the role of UN. But, she added, this objective can best be achieved by a comprehensive reform of the security council.

Dr Lodhi also touched upon the negotiations at the UN on reform of the Security Council.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019