- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

NEW DELHI India has strongly rejected a suggestion by the United Nations' chief military observer in Kashmir, Maj. Gen. Hermann K. Loidolt, that the United States might have to intervene to resolve its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.
On Monday, Austrian Gen. Loidolt created a tempest by calling Kashmir a "tormented country" where both India and Pakistan are playing "political games." The U.N. observer also warned that in Kashmir tension is going to escalate in coming days.
Indian government officials were furious about the statement of the U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) chief.
"India has never indulged in political games or diversionary measures," said Nirupama Rao, the External Affairs Ministry spokeswoman. "Neither do we seek any [judgment] on the issue of [Jammu and Kashmir] from third parties."
India was particularly incensed over remarks that would give the United States a role in solving the Kashmir dispute.
"All of us are aware of the situation in Kashmir and the games both parties are playing with this tormented country," Gen. Loidolt said, reading from a statement on UNMOGIP letterhead. "My view is that the activity of UNMOGIP in the field must be controlled by the U.S. and not by the parties to the Kashmir conflict."
Manoel De Almeida e Silva, deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, disavowed the remarks yesterday in New York.
"Chiefs of missions in the field are required to discuss with headquarters when they make political statements. The chief military observer did not comply with that requirement in this case," he said.
"[Gen. Loidolt] has been reminded of the limits of his responsibility and I should also make it very clear that what he said does not reflect the views of the secretary-general."
Although the job of UNMOGIP is to observe developments pertaining to the cease-fire after the full-scale Indo-Pakistani war in 1971, India barely tolerates the presence of the U.N. mission in the area. UNMOGIP has no mandate to supervise the 1971 cease-fire line. India does not give military observers access to the Line of Control, virtually turning the U.N. mission into an ineffective force.
Separatist leaders of Kashmir were delighted over the statement by UNMOGIP. Abdul Ghani Lone, leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir, agreed with Gen. Loidolt that India and Pakistan were "playing games with Kashmir."
"[Gen. Loidolts] remarks are a signal that the world community would like India and Pakistan to address the Kashmir dispute and resolve it once and for all. We are happy that U.N. has stirred itself into activity after having remained a passive onlooker for so long."
India's ambassador to the United States, Lalit Mansingh, said Thursday the U.N. retraction ended the ruckus.

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