War and Peace

Southasia - - COMMENT -

Pak­istan is the 6th largest coun­try in the world in terms of pop­u­la­tion and has the world’s 5th largest stand­ing army. The coun­try’s armed forces are not only de­ployed on the na­tional bor­ders, both in the east (In­dia) and the west (Afghanistan/Tal­iban) but are also fight­ing a bat­tle with In­dia on the world’s high­est battlefield (Si­achin). In ad­di­tion, Pak­istan is en­gaged in com­bat­ing the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in a big way and the suc­cess­ful Op­er­a­tion Zarb e Azb is a prime ex­am­ple. This ex­pe­ri­ence has made the Pak­istan Army the most bat­tle-hard­ened fight­ing force in the world to­day. How­ever, de­spite th­ese key in­volve­ments, the Pak­istan Army con­tin­ues to par­tic­i­pate in UN peace­keep­ing ini­tia­tives in a very prom­i­nent man­ner and the coun­try is one of the top con­trib­u­tors to UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions, with some 12,000 of its sol­diers com­mit­ted to th­ese du­ties. The United Na­tions de­fines peace­keep­ing as a way to help war-torn coun­tries cre­ate con­di­tions for sus­tain­able peace. The history of UN peace­keep­ing ef­forts across the globe would be al­ways in­com­plete with­out talk­ing about the pos­i­tive role of the Pak­istan Army. Com­pared to the armed forces of other coun­tries, Pak­istani sol­diers are the most wanted as they have been fight­ing on nu­mer­ous fronts at both the lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional level and giv­ing a good ac­count of them­selves.

It was in 1960 when the Pak­istani army de­ployed its first con­tin­gent of a to­tal of 3,556 troops as a part of the UN oper­a­tions in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (MONUC). The next UN mis­sion the Pak­istan Army un­der­took was the West Irian (West New Guinea) con­flict, which occurred be­tween In­done­sia and the Nether­lands in 1962. The then In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Soekarno ac­knowl­edged the cru­cial role of the Pak­istan Army at the end of the mis­sion, say­ing, “It was be­cause of Pak­istani troops that In­done­sia and Pak­istan came close to­gether, they were Pak­istan's best am­bas­sadors.” Since then, the Pak­istan Army has been lead­ing from the front and is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions across the globe, dis­play­ing un­matched pro­fes­sional in­tegrity and firm ded­i­ca­tion.

Pak­istani peace­keep­ers have par­tic­i­pated in 41 UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions in 23 re­gions. To date, a to­tal of 154,527 Pak­istani troops have served in in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing ini­tia­tives. As a re­sult, Pak­istani troops also have the high­est ca­su­alty ra­tio as some 139 sol­diers have lost their lives in dif­fer­ent mis­sions, which is 10 per cent of the to­tal fa­tal­i­ties of troops in UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions. Other than lay­ing down their lives for the sake of in­ter­na­tional peace, more than 135 Pak­istani sol­diers have sus­tained se­vere in­juries, leav­ing some of them phys­i­cally dis­abled for the rest of their lives. On June 5, 1993, 24 Pak­istani sol­diers were killed on one day in So­ma­lia (UNOSOM). The sol­diers were pro­tect­ing their UN com­rades and the peo­ple of So­ma­lia from armed rebels. To com­mem­o­rate their sac­ri­fices and brav­ery, the ‘Pak­istani Peace­keep­ers Day’ is ob­served glob­ally on ev­ery 5th of June. In the af­ter­math of the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait found it­self con­fronted with colos­sal post­war prob­lems. Th­ese in­cluded the recla­ma­tion of Kuwaiti ter­ri­tory which had been turned into a battlefield by Iraq and the al­lied forces. It was al­most com­pletely in­fested with lethal mines, am­mu­ni­tion and ex­plo­sives which made use of the land im­pos­si­ble. Pak­istan was as­signed the most dif­fi­cult area in the north of Kuwait city, spread over 3000 sq. km. and sub­se­quently recla­ma­tion of Bu­biyan Is­land was also en­trusted to the Pak­istani sol­diers. The op­er­a­tion was suc­cess­fully car­ried out by a task force of Pak­istan Army en­gi­neers be­long­ing to the Fron­tier Works Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Rec­og­niz­ing the com­mend­able per­for­mance of the Pak­istan Army con­tin­gents as United Na­tions peace­keep­ers in So­ma­lia and Cam­bo­dia and in other parts of the world, the United Na­tions re­quested Pak­istan to con­trib­ute troops to the United Na­tions Pro­tec­tion Force in Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina. A 3000 strong con­tin­gent con­sist­ing of two Bat­tal­ion Groups and a Na­tional Sup­port (NS) Head­quar­ters went to Bos­nia and Croa­tia in May 1994. In 2003, some 2741 Pak­istani troops served the United Na­tions Mis­sion in Liberia (UNMIL) dur­ing the Sec­ond Liberian Civil War. In 2004, about 1185 Pak­istani sol­diers took part in UN oper­a­tions in Bu­rundi (ONUB), and in the same year around 1145 Pak­istani troops were part of UN oper­a­tions in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) dur­ing the coun­try’s pro­longed civil war. The Pak­istani army also played a ma­jor role in the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion in the Sec­ond Su­danese Civil War in 2005.

Dur­ing his visit to Pak­istan in 2013, UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki Moon ac­claimed the ef­forts of Pak­istani troops en­gaged in United Na­tions peace­keep­ing mis­sions. It is clear that there is no match to the Pak­istan Army in the world when it comes to war, but a dis­ci­plined and fit fight­ing force that it is, the Pak­istan Army also stands the tallest when as­sist­ing in peace­keep­ing ef­forts around the world.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal

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