The contribution made by Pakistani troops in the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia, 25 years back in 1993 is something that the world needs to know and explore for the cause of peace and cooperation.
Somalia battle also serves as lesson and highlights need of trust within the UN peacekeeping forces. Speakers said this during a ceremony in remembrance and in honour of those who sacrificed their lives or got injured during peacemaking mission in Somalia from 1993 to 1995.
The ceremony, organized by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) and Embassy of Italy was addressed by Ambassadors of Italy, Somalia, diplomats and particularly Pakistan’s war veterans who had first-hand experience of those fateful days.
Participants recalled that much of the public imagination of the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia often evokes western documentaries and movies made on the US’s involvement in that mission, especially in a battle in capital Mogadishu.
While the US has documented its history, no matter how contested, other countries including Pakistan have done little to that end. This despite the critical involvement of Pakistan in that mission: For one, Pakistani soldiers went in the end to rescue the Americans in the battle.
The UN mission in Somalia was carried out in phases, witnessing a range of incidents. PIPS director Muhammad Amir Rana recalled that it was “not an ordinary mission”. It was more than mere stationing of the troops, but involved direct combat, including Pakistani and Italians.The sacrifices of Pakistanis are worth noting. In June 1993, Pakistani soldiers were attacked by rebels from all sides, in which, a veteran Col (R) Waziri recalled, 23 Pakistanis laid down their lives, 52 were wounded, while 17 faced disabilities.
Somali ambassador Khadija Al-Makhzoomi paid gratitude to the fallen soldiers of Pakistan, saying Pakistan was the first country that sent troops to Somalia.
Italian ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo said the mission itself served as a great example of Pakistan-Italy relations. He said not only Pakistani forces contributed tremendously to the cause of peace, Italian troops also proved themselves worthy of the task and made great sacrifices. One-minute silence was observed for those who laid down their lives. The discussion also weighed on such incidents to unpack the peacekeeping concept. War veteran from Pakistan’s side of UN peacekeeping mission Lt Genl (R) Masood Aslam recalled that the context in which the forces were sent to Somalia entailed other missions with fewer rebels in mind; these include Congo, Liberia, among others.