M Ali Siddiqi recollects the active role played by Pakistan army in a crucial area
Contribution Of Pakistan Army In International Peacekeeping – Peacekeeping is a contentious matter requiring sincerity, tenacity and equanimity to ensure sustainable peace. The United Nations was initially mandated to play a role in resolving disputes through parleys but gradually it evolved as an international peacekeeper. The evolutionary progress of the UN as international peacekeeper was unique in the annals of international relations as it was given the authority to deploy trained military professionals to maintain and oversee peace in war-torn areas. Maintaining and building peace had given rise to a continuous discussion between both civil and military circles that define and elaborate upon this intangible concept. The concept is broadly viewed as an activity between conflict continuums that are spread through pre-conflict prevention to subsequent peace building. The primary function of peace building was attributed to the post-conflict phase as an action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict. But the phenomenon was challenged by the relevant statistics that pointed out that quite a good deal of conflagrations did recur after getting ended and such after-effects have proven more disastrous in their ultimate analysis.
It was found out that the supposed ending of approximately 69% of civil wars witnessed after 1945 saw an off-shoot of organised violence that often gave way to rabid authoritarian regimes. In the light of the above facts the concept of Peacekeeping underwent a theoretical and operational change and the emphasis shifted to pre-conflict prevention in order to preclude possibilities of its re-eruption. The paradigm shift stipulated that the negotiated settlements should be comprehensive in nature and that they must be supervised by a multi-dimensional peace keeping exercise that may purposefully be kept open-ended.
Peacekeeping under international auspices currently implies the employment of coercive instruments being used as sources of soft power that endow them with widespread acceptance. UN Peacekeeping endeavours transformed the practice of peacekeeping into a highly valued operational method and the competence of the international peacekeepers earned them well-deserved international admiration. The participation of different states in UN Peacekeeping missions enhanced their international prestige and provided them an opportunity to be a part of the process of framing issues pertaining to humanitarian causes.
Sometime after its inception the United Nations was entrusted with peacekeeping operations and as early as 1948 its Security Council authorised deploying UN military professionals to undertake observation of Armistice Agreement between the Arab states and Israel after the first Arab-Israeli War. Once the UN embarked upon peacekeeping missions then there was no end to this activity and its arbitration was sought in all areas where conflagration existed. The UN since 1948 sent its peacekeeping troops on 71 operations with an average of one operation per year. The high average of UN Peacekeeping activities is the proof of the frequency of eruption of bloody conflicts and the UN is considered an essential mechanism of brokering ceasefires and then maintaining them. The UN Peacekeepers are currently engaged in 16 operations in conflict zones spread around the globe.
The discipline and adaptability were part and parcel of the army inherited by Pakistan when it came into existence. The qualities of training and application soon brought it at par with international standards of soldiering. Pakistan army can proudly refer to its consistent participation in UN Peacekeeping missions spread over a long period of time. The participation began in 1960 when Pakistan army troops were asked to be a part of peacekeeping operations in Congo. In a period spanning well over half a century Pakistani presence in UN Peacekeeping operations has become a prominent part of the entire peacekeeping process. During the long period of its association with UN peacekeeping process Pakistan has deployed more than 160,000 troops to 43 missions. The area of operations Pakistan participated in varied in nature as it had been active in missions in Latin America, the Balkans, West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. Pakistani troops are well regarded for going beyond the call of duty in providing humanitarian assistance and they are reputed for never hesitating to lay down their lives for saving and rescuing people in need of assistance.
Through their sincere devotion Pakistani troops won the hearts and minds of the people of Somalia when they very effectively handled the security situation and provided escort to food convoys. During the tragic Olympic Hotel incident in 1993 it was the valour and tenacity of the Pakistani troops that rescued 75 stranded US soldiers encouraging the US commander to state that many of the soldiers were alive because of the courage of Pakistani troops. Pakistan army’s efforts to maintain peace in Haiti were widely recognised. In the Balkans, Pakistani troops helped in maintaining peace on ground, provided food and medical assistance to the conflict-stricken people. In Sierra Leone the successful completion of UN Peacekeeping mission owes a great deal to the efforts of Pakistani troops. While performing in Cambodia, Pakistani troops devised and managed an extensive programme to help repair village roads, dig wells and set up medical camps. The conflict in East Timur provided Pakistani troops to reconstruct the country and oversaw its peaceful transition to an independent country.
The long record of Pakistan army peacekeeping performance brings to fore that it has participated in almost 65 per cent of UN peacekeeping engagements globally as its services were acquired for 43 missions out of the total 71 the UN has launched to date. Most of the missions were very challenging enabling Pakistani troops to vindicate their commitment with honour. Pakistani troops are currently performing peacekeeping duties in Congo, Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, West Sahara, Central African Republic and Sudan. In the process of peacekeeping Pakistan achieved the singular honour of being appointed on various key appointments of UN Peacekeeping operations including Special Envoy/Adviser to UN Secretary General, Special Representative of UN Secretary General, Military Adviser at DPKO, Chief Military observer, Force and Deputy Force Commanders.
The most significant advantage obtained by Pakistan in participating in UN peacekeeping missions is the positive projection of the essentials attributes of Pakistani polity that comes out as a caring and prudent society. The keen participation of Pakistan in a dangerous activity like peacekeeping highlights the nature of Pakistani aspirations as full of amity and signifies its willingness to stand up to aggression. The exercise portrays Pakistan as a country that is deeply against terrorism and its affiliated forms and shapes. Pakistan through its role in UN peacekeeping activities has been able to cultivate friendly ties with other countries as international collaboration carries in itself vast assurances of intra-state confidence. The discipline and organisation of Pakistani troops have given a ring of credibility to the instititionalised orientation of the country. Obviously Pakistani peacekeepers represent the cumulative ethos of Pakistani nationhood in which peace plays a central role.
The exhibition of soft power of Pakistan as demonstrated through its active participation in international peacekeeping has furthered the cause of international peace and security and has ably assisted the UN in this respect. Through discharging onus responsibilities of peacekeeping Pakistan’s stature has been enhanced regionally as well as globally. It is clear to all and sundry that Pakistan and its army have played a valuable role in promoting peace in the world under the auspices of the United Nations. The Weekender