If the issuance of United Nations Resolutions could bring peace to a region, then fighting in Kashmir would be nothing more than a distant memory. On the other hand, a case could be made the area could have been the site of endless bloodshed of epic proportions were it not for the presence of United Nations military observers over the past 50-plus years.

With the partition of India in 1947 into the overwhelmingly Muslim Dominion of Pakistan and the Hindu-majority India, the State of Jammu and Kashmir had been given the option of joining one of the two countries or remaining independent. Because of the highly diverse religious and ethnic composition of the state, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir opted for independence—a decision that let to uprisings in the heavily Muslim western areas of the nation. This insurgency was soon augmented by armed incursions by Pashtuns, leading the Maharaja to choose becoming a part of India on October 26, 1947, greenlighting the insertion of Indian troops into Kashmir to battle the Pashtuns, many of whom hailed from Pakistan.

Citing the Maharaja’s accession, India brought the matter before the United Nations on January 1, 1948, claiming an assault on its territories of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistanis; Pakistan responded by claiming that not only had India had acquired the state through fraud and strong-arm tactics, but also that its troops were carrying out genocide against Muslims. The first response by the U.N. Security Council was Resolution 39, passed on January 20, 1948 and which was supposed to establish a three-member commission to investigate the claims of both parties.

But no such commission was created until the passage of the Security Council passed Resolution 47 in April, 1948, which also imposed a cease-fire and called for withdrawal of Pakistani and Pashtun fighters from the region and for India to draw down the number of troops it had in Kashmir.

This new resolution increased the size of the commission—now dubbed the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, or UNCIP—to five; it would make three visits to the Indian subcontinent between 1948, with the cease-fire not put into effect until January 1, 1949—the official starting eligibility date for the U.N. Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan Medal.

On March 30, 1951, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 91, extending the authorization for the presence of the U.N. Military Observer Group to report violations of ceasefire agreements. That authorization is still in effect today.

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