Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah addressed in February 1948 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 United Nations Charter”.
Since the first day Pakistan has been following the vision of global prosperity and helping the oppressed masses across the world. Pakistan’s Army is active enough to contribute in this regard. United Nations has been busy in conducting its peace missions in various war-torn areas, not only to establish peace but also to provide humanitarian assistance. Pakistan is a big player in UN peace keeping forces. Pakistan joined the United Nations on 30 September 1947. Since 1960, Pakistan has been actively involved in most of the UN Peacekeeping missions and today is the country with the most troops serving for UN peacekeeping missions. Some of the major contributions were in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Congo and Liberia.
Currently, 8252 troops of Pakistan Army are engaged in 7 different peace keeping missions across three continents; i.e. Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Darfur, Western Sahara, East Timor and Haiti. Our commitment to global peace remains unwavering and steadfast. The performance of Pakistani peacekeepers has been acknowledged worldwide by numerous world leaders and the UN leadership. An undisputed professional standing of Pakistani peacekeepers has made them the passion of every Special Representative of Secretary General and Force Commander in each of UN Peacekeeping Mission. Moreover, Pakistan’s dedication towards UN has been recognized by the fact that UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon himself visited Pakistan and inaugurated the Center for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) on 13 August 2013 and acclaimed Pakistan’s efforts in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Till date Pakistan has participated in 41 UN missions in 23 states where total 142,542 Pakistani personnel engaged, taking start from UN Congo Operation in 1960. Pak army delivered its services in first mission Congo from 31 August 1960 to May 1964, contributed in ordnance, transport and staff. Pak army arrived in Congo in August 2003 where still is present and provided a Battalion Group comprising one infantry battalion and supporting elements. In pursuance of Pakistan Army’s commitment towards global peace, 128 Pakistani soldiers have sacrificed their lives for global peace; almost two men per year. Contribution made in this regard be speaks Pakistan’s desire to see the principles of human dignity, freedom and self-determination applied.
For monitoring ceasefire during transition of West Irian from Dutch rule to Indonesians, Pakistan contributed 1500 infantry troops from 3 October 1962 to 30 April 1963. In a rare acknowledgement of good job done, Chinese Premier Chou-En-Lai remarked, “The only example in United Nation’s history, when a United Nation military force had gone in, performed its role honestly and came out, was Pakistan’s military contingent to Indonesia” .
Pakistan’s next contribution was in United Nations Yemen Observer Mission (UNYOM) as a military observer from January to September 1964. Yemen entered into a state of civil war in 1962. To ensure that this conflict did not escalate into an international incident, the UN set up UN Yemen Observation Mission. United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia (UNTAG) was established to assist the special representative of the UN Secretary General to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free and fair elections under the supervision and control of the UN, and to carry out a number of other duties. 20 military observers from Pak army performed their duties from 1 April 1989 to 21 March 1990 in Namibia.
It was not only Africa but also in Middle East Pakistan was on forefront for peace restoration. United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) was established in April 1991 following the forced withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Its task was to monitor the demilitarized zone along the Iraq-Kuwait border, deter border violations and report on any hostile action. The mandate of the Mission was completed on 6 October 2003. Pakistani help continued there from April 1991 to 2003. 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. The operation was carried out by a task force of Pakistan Army Engineers belonging to Frontier Works Organization. The professionalism and dedication displayed by this force elicited praise at international level.
Inside the United Nations Transitional Authority on Cambodia (UNTAC), the Pakistani troops carried out peacekeeping operations in the most difficult and remote regions during the period May 1992 – August 1993. They overcame enormous logistic and operational problems and, displaying their characteristic courage and determination, defended themselves and those for whom they were responsible. Undaunted by the odds, they handled crisis after crisis and persuaded the warring factions to lay down their arms.
On the request of the UN in Latin America under the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), Pakistan provided one Infantry battalion to form part of UNMIH. This battalion, ‘PAKBAT’, arrived in Haiti in March 1995 and was deployed in Cape Haitien . At that time this area faced extremely volatile security situation and was also reputed to be the hotbed of political restlessness. In order to improve the security situation, PAKBAT started to discharge its responsibilities with an extensive patrolling program covering north, northeast and central regions.
Pakistan, under the UN mandate, generously contributed to the stability of Bosnia, Kosovo, Georgia, and East Timor as well. To sum up, Pakistan’s army has worked in difficult terrains and situations for the global peace…as in East Asia, South East Asia, Eurasia, Middle East, Southern Africa, West Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Even now when Pakistan itself is going through a tough situation amidst the War on Terrorism, is contributing to world prosperity; having still a sizeable number of its troops in various parts of the planet.
Now is equally the responsibility of the UN, US and other big powers and international community as a whole to acknowledge Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices for global peace in true sense. Lip service is not enough, some big commitments are needed. The UN and Great Powers must seriously think to encounter false propaganda against Pakistan. Islamabad “Did More” in response of international demand “Do More”. Now is their turn to do at least a “Little More” for Pakistan.
By Dr. Manzoor Khan Afridi, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, March 31, 2014
Author is Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University Islamabad.