Sultan M Hali
OCTOBER 24 is observed around the globe as United Nations Day. Ever since Pakistan gained independence in August 1947 and became a responsible member of the United Nations, it has been contributing its armed forces for peacekeeping. Pakistan Army’s calling came in July 1960, when it was asked to be a part of the UN peacekeeping force during the Congo Crisis. Four hundred Pakistani troops operated under strenuous circumstances and gave a good account of themselves, setting the foundations for future peacekeeping missions. According to facts and figures released by ISPR, Pakistan has contributed more than 1,60,000 troops till to-date in 41 Missions spread over 23 countries in almost all continents of the World. In pursuance of its commitment to noble cause of international peace and tranquility, 156 Pakistani troops including 23 Officers have rendered the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in different UN Missions, while about 150 Pakistani personnel have suffered serious injuries. Pakistan has remained one of largest Troops Contributing Countries consistently for many years.
Peacekeeping, as defined by the United Nations, is a way to help countries torn by conflict to create conditions for sustainable peace. UN peacekeepers—usually comprising military officers, police officers and civilian personnel from many countries—monitor and observe peace processes that emerge in post-conflict situations and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they have signed. Such assistance comes in many forms, including confidence-building measures, power-sharing arrangements, electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, and economic and social development. Pakistan has contributed mainly military, but also paramilitary and and civilian police as peacekeepers as well. It is essential that all peacekeeping operations include the resolution of conflicts through the use of force under the aegis of the United Nations Charter. Contributing its armed forces, police and civilian personnel to the noble task of peacekeeping, Pakistan has adhered to the principles laid down by the vision of its founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who declared that “Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world. We believe in the principle of honesty and fair play in national and international dealings and are prepared to make our utmost contribution to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nations of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter.”
Some of the major peacekeeping contributions by Pakistan have been in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Congo, Liberia, East Timor, West New Guinea, Namibia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti, Bosnia, Western Sahara, Ivory Coast, Angola, Eastern Slavonia, Yemen and Kuwait. Out of these, the most dangerous have been in Somalia, where Pakistan sacrificed 39 of its troops in upholding its peacekeeping mission, while at Kuwait, its Frontier Works Organization engineers undertook the daunting task of clearing lethal landmines. In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war, Kuwait was confronted with colossal post-war problems. Almost the entire territory was infested with lethal mines, huge stockpiles of ammunition and explosives and vast dugouts, which made the normal use of land impossible. The responsibility was separately entrusted to Pakistan and six other countries. Pakistan was assigned the most difficult area in the north of Kuwait city. It was spread over 3000 square kilometers. Subsequently reclamation of Bubiyan Island also was entrusted to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s contribution towards UN peacekeeping role has not been limited to dispatching its forces, but it has also undertaken the noble and intricate task of training peacekeepers. The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at Islamabad, has introduced the curriculum of peacekeeping. NUST has established the Center for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), where personnel deployed for peacekeeping as well as diplomats posted to conflict zones undergo training courses. The performance of Pakistani peacekeepers has been recognized worldwide by several world leaders including those of the UN. An undeniable professional standing of Pakistani forces has made them the passion of every special representative of Secretary General and Force Commander in each of UN peacekeeping operations. In this respect, Pakistan’s dedication towards UN has been acknowledged by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who personally inaugurated the CIPS on 13 August 2013 and praised Pakistan’s efforts in UN peacekeeping missions. It is noteworthy that a number of allied forces are also sending their personnel for training at CIPS and availing of the outstanding facility.
Pakistan’s hardcore experience in combating terrorism for over a decade and a half and achieving success has also been taken cognizance of. The recently established 34 nations’ alliance comprising Muslim nations specially invited Pakistan to not only participate but lead the mission. NATO member countries and all other countries suffering from the scourge of terrorism, have requested Pakistan to involve them in anti terror military exercises and enable their personnel and law enforcing agencies to learn from Pakistan’s rich experience. This is another form of peacekeeping, in which Pakistan’s armed forces are playing an important role and have brought prestige to the nation. Pakistan’s Armed Forces contribution, led by its army, also includes the use of air power spearheaded by its air force and the participation of its navy in anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations. Pakistan Navy has been a part of various task forces and has led them with distinction.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.