United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission (UNIPOM)

International Operation Name: United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission (UNIPOM)

International Operation Dates:  1965/09/20 – 1966/03/22

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name:  Asia

Location:  India - Pakistan

Canadian Operation Name: United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission (UNIPOM)

Canadian Operation Dates: 1965/09/26 - 1966/03/15

Mission Mandate: UNIPOM was established in accordance with Security Council Resolution 211 (1965) of 20 September 1965, to supervise the ceasefire along the India-Pakistan border (except in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, where the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) operated) and to oversee the withdrawal of all armed personnel to the positions they held before 5 August 1965.

Mission Notes:

Sections of the frontier between India and Pakistan have been in dispute since the two countries gained their independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. An inconclusive war between the two had been fought over the Jammu-Kashmir region in 1947-1948, leading to the creation of the United Nations Military Observer Group India-Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to monitor the cease-fire and line of control there.

Fighting broke out again in the Rann of Kutch region, at the southernmost point of the India-Pakistan border, in April 1965, and although an unofficial cease-fire was formalised on 30 June, it did not take root. By 5 August Pakistan had moved some 26,000 soldiers into Kashmir, and the fighting there continued all that month. On 1 September Pakistan opened a second front in the Punjab, south of Kashmir, and the fighting now escalated. That led the United Nations Security Council to begin calling for a cease-fire. Backed by the halting of arms shipments to the belligerents by Great Britain and the United States as well as by a Chinese ultimatum, the UN initiative gained momentum until, on 20 September, the Security Council passed Resolution 211, calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of all armed forces back to the positions they held prior to 5 August 1965. It also requested that the Secretary-General provide the necessary assistance to supervise the cease-fire and withdrawal of troops. As the mandate of UNMOGIP was limited to Kashmir, a separate United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission was created to monitor the cease-fire in the rest of the border region. India accepted the cease-fire on 21 September, Pakistan on the 22nd.

UNIPOM was initially under the charge of UNMOGIP; however, with the arrival of Canadian Major-General B.F. Macdonald in October 1965 as force commander, UNIPOM began to operate independently, although still in close coordination with UNMOGIP. UNIPOM was initially created with fifteen military observers temporarily seconded from the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization and twelve from UNMOGIP. With the arrival of the first of ninety-six observers, these augmentees were withdrawn. The immediate period after the cease-fire was characterized by continued skirmishes as neither side was prepared to produce a withdrawal plan at the negotiating table or enforce cease-fire discipline on their own troops. UNIPOM observers were therefore placed in the difficult position of attempting to enforce a cease-fire which they had no means of enforcing. The Tashkent Agreement, reached with the assistance of the Soviet Union and signed on 10 January 1966, called for the withdrawal of all forces to be completed by 25 February 1966. Thereafter, UNIPOM’s personnel were able to effectively conduct their roles.

Canada’s contribution to UNIPOM consisted of the force commander, twelve army officers as observers, a Royal Canadian Air Force detachment, as well as the three officers and five airmen of the RCAF detachment with UNMOGIP, who were temporarily seconded to UNIPOM. That brought its total strength to ninety, a number subsequently reduced to seventy-nine by December. The RCAF detachment, designated 117 Air Transport Unit (ATU) was equipped with two DHC-4 Caribou and three DHC-2 Otter aircraft. The Caribous left Trenton on 24 September, arriving in Lahore, Pakistan after an eleven-day ferry flight. The Otters were dismantled and flown over in 436 Transport Squadron Hercules. The Canadian observers and the 117 ATU personnel flew to Lahore, Pakistan on a 437 Squadron Yukon aircraft.The Caribou were soon busy ferrying UNIPOM personnel to isolated desert posts and keeping them supplied. They also supported UNMOGIP’s air requirements, including the semi-annual move in October of UNMOGIP’s headquarters between Srinagar and Rawalpindi. The Otters, meanwhile, conducted reconnaissance missions over the desert on a nearly daily basis, flew twice-weekly ferry flights into the mountains, and carried observers on an on-call basis to reported hot-spots.

For their part, the Canadian Army personnel were employed mainly at outposts on the India-Pakistani frontier, most of which was desert. Here they were responsible for patrolling the front lines and for responding to any cease-fire violations.

Initially, UNIPOM was given a three-month mandate; however, by December 1965 India and Pakistan indicated they would like it to remain longer. A further three months was granted. However, with talks progressing well, UNIPOM’s mandate was allowed to lapse on 22 March 1966. Most Canadians had left by then. All army personnel were withdrawn from their posts by 1 March and flown out by Yukon aircraft. The Caribous began their flights home on 15 March; and three Hercules flights picked up the disassembled Otters in April. The last Canadians to leave were the rear party of twelve, which closed out the unit.


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