The United Nations India-Pakistan Observation Mission, abbreviated as UNIPOM, was a peacekeeping mission put in place in September 1965 by the UN Security Council. Its aim was to supervise the ceasefire and withdrawal of any armed groups residing along the India-Pakistan border outside of Kashmir and Jammu. Some observers were stationed along a ceasefire line stretching for 1000 miles while others were deployed in New Delhi. The mission came to an end in March 1966 after a formal peace treaty was signed.
After the Second World War ended, the differences between the Hindus and Muslims in colonial British India deteriorated. This meant that after the British government handed over sovereignty in August 1947, two beneficiaries emerged: the Hindu state of India and the Muslim state of Pakistan. Two regions in particular continued to trigger many border conflicts. They were the principalities of Kashmir and Jammu in the Himalayas. There was fighting between Pakistani and Indian troops in Kashmir that took place between October 1947 and January 1949, which was the earliest India-Pakistani War. The two parties were urged to implement a ceasefire by the United Nations Security Council, with a military observer mission monitoring to ensure that the ceasefire was observed beginning January 1949. However, incidences of violence in the two regions escalated rapidly, leading to the second India-Pakistani War. This spurred the Security Council to call for another ceasefire, only this time it was UNIPOM that was tasked with ensuring the ceasefire was adhered to.
In January 1966, the president of Pakistan and Indias Prime Minister were invited to a meeting by the Soviet Unions Chairman of the Council of Ministers in Tashkent. On the 10th of that month, they announced an agreement in which all armed troops of both sides were to withdrawal from the warzones by February 1966. They also agreed that the terms laid down by the ceasefire were to be observed. The principles of a plan to make the withdrawals as well as its schedule were later agreed upon by military officials of the two countries.
There is no denying that UNIPOM was an operation that had been set up in a hurry. This is evident in how Dutch observers were treated upon arrival at the conflict zone. They were not issued with UN headgear or flags, nor were they given radios. They had to contend with equipment that had been discarded from Congo as well as borrowed army jeeps that did not have any UN markings. The mission area had been divided into seven sectors, with fourteen field stations being manned along the confrontation line. Where these stations were located exactly depended on where Pakistani or Indian military units were deployed. A station could be sheltered anywhere, with its location largely determining the activities that observers carried out.
In the desert border region in the south were sparsely populated areas called Rajastan and Sindh. Troops of the two parties happened to be widely dispersed in this region, meaning that a confrontation was unlikely. Observers stationed here did not have much to do. This enabled them to spend a lot of time maintaining contact with various army units. On the other hand, the densely populated northern Punjab area was rich in raw materials. This meant that it attracted a lot of attention from Pakistani and Indian forces. Given the high number of ceasefire violations in this area, observers had no alternative but to adopt a less passive approach.
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