U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed Rear Admiral Guillermo Pablo Rios of Argentina as the Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), the office of the U.N. Secretary General has announced.
Rear Admiral Rios will follow Major General Jose Eladin Alcain of Uruguay who has nearly completed his tenure. UNMOGIP emerged from U.N. Security Council Resolution 39 of January 1948 that set up the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The Karachi Agreement of July 1949 firmed up the role of UN-level military observers and permitted supervision of the Cease Fire Line established in Jammu and Kashmir.
India officially maintains that the UNMOGIP's role was "overtaken" by the Simla Agreement of 1972 that established the Line of Control or the LoC which with "minor deviations" followed the earlier Cease Fire Line. Pakistan however did not accept the Indian argument and continued to seek cooperation from the UNMOGIP. As a result of this divergent policies, Pakistan continues to lodge complaints with the UNMOGIP against alleged Indian ceasefire violations whereas India has not officially gone to the UNMOGIP since 1972 with complaints against Pakistan.
In view of the difference of opinion between two contesting sides – India and Pakistan – the U.N. has maintained that the UNMOGIP could be dissolved only with a decision from the U.N. Security Council. Despite the respective official positions, the military observers have at times hit the headlines. In the summer of 2017, Pakistan alleged that Indian side had fired upon vehicles carrying UNMOGIP officials who were travelling in the Pakistani territory. The then MEA Spokesperson Gopal Baglay categorically denied that charge and the U.N. Secretary General's office had observed that there was no evidence that could prove Pakistan's allegation. Earlier, India had asked UNMOGIP to vacate the residential property that it occupied. The Ministry of External Affairs however explained that decision as part of "rationalizing the presence of UNMOGIP".
The latest announcement regarding appointment of the Argentine naval figure to head the UNMOGIP however has come at a time when India and Argentina are warming up official level dialogue. Argentina which fought the war over the Falklands with the United Kingdom in 1982 has urged the international community to bring the U.K. to the negotiating table so that it could regain control over the Falklands. India hosted the Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero in April. Argentina's embassy here re-opened its military wing in 2021 indicating at warming up of defence ties between India and Argentina.
Rear Admiral Rios has been part of Argentine navy since 1988. He has served in two peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in 1993 and 1994 and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in 2007. He has also served as a Humanitarian Demining Supervisor with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Angola (1997-1998). He speaks English, Portuguese and Russian.