Peacekeepers deserve gratitude

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SEVEN Pakistanis out of 32 UN peacekeeping personnel were killed in deliberate attacks against them last year, according to the UN Staff Union.

For the 9th year in a row, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was the deadliest for peacekeepers with 14 fatalities, followed by 13 fatalities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, four fatalities in the Central African Republic and one fatality in Lebanon.

All these peacekeepers deserve our special gratitude and support as these women and men continue serving under the blue flag for the greater cause of peace.

As the role and mandate of such forces have evolved from traditional peacekeeping such as ceasefire monitoring missions to a more robust and broader mandates for peace enforcement and peace building it has really become important to take such steps that ensure their safety and security.

Hence, UN Staff Union President Aitor Arauz, in a statement, very rightly emphasized for collective responsibility of the international community to put in place appropriate mechanism to ensure accountability for heinous acts against peacekeepers which may constitute war crimes under international law.

We also take great pride in Pakistani peacekeepers who through their professionalism and dedication have always distinguished themselves in every mission where they have participated.

Since the 1960s, the country has contributed over 200,000 troops to 43 missions. In its service to the cause of peace, Pakistan lost about 169 of its bravest who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It is not only men, but Pakistani women peacekeepers have also been providing assistance in conflict and post conflict situations and inspiring women around the globe.

The very performance of our peacekeepers has also been acknowledged worldwide by numerous world leaders and the UN leadership.

But the question is for how long these armed conflicts will continue taking a heavy toll on humanity.

Instead of conflicts, the focus must be on addressing the issues of disease, hunger and backwardness.

As also stated by the UN Secretary General, it is time to silence the guns and commit to a global ceasefire.