29th May every year is celebrated as the International Day of United Nations Peace-keepers, or the “Blue Helmets’ Day,” These countless troops from all over the world are in fact the heroes of the world, who far from their homes risk their lives to maintain and establish peace and writ of the world community in troubled lands. These operations are undertaken under the Article 1 of Chapter 1 of the U.N. Charter adopted in 1945 which states that the first purpose of the organization is, “To maintain international peace and security.” Therefore, U.N. peacekeeping operations are one of the most significant and relevant functions of the U.N., and they are a central component in the international community’s response to crises and conflicts.
Like many countries of the world, Pakistan also contributes substantially to the UN peacekeeping efforts, and is presently the largest contributor in terms of troops to this noble cause. Pakistan joined the United Nations on 30 September, 1947, just a month after its independence from the British India. However, the active participation of Pakistan started from 1960 and today with more than 10,000 troops, Pakistan tops the UN peacekeeping contingents around the world. Some of the major contributions were in Congo, New Guinea, Namibia, Kuwait, Haiti, Cambodia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, and Liberia.
Congo was the first Pakistani assignment back in August 1960, which continued for four years. Pakistan contributed some 400 personnel mainly from the Supply and Transport and Ordnance corps. During the Somalia civil war, Pakistan was the first country to respond to the call of the United Nations. On 14 September 1992 five hundred Pakistani troops arrived in Mogadishu to launch the United Nation humanitarian campaign. Deployment of the security force was preceded by the arrival of an advance party of 50 United Nation observers, drawn from different countries, led by a Pakistani Brigadier.
Pakistani contingent to Somalia in 1993 played a decisive role in extrication of the embattled US peacekeeping contingent. The US had lost 19 and 83 wounded and its two Black Hawk Super S-5 helicopters destroyed. The situation was so precarious that the dead US soldiers were dragged into the streets of Somalia. Under such trying time, it was the Pakistani contingent that came to the rescue of the US contingent and helped their safe exit from Somalia.
To ensure peace and stability in the troubled lands, a colossal amount is being spent by the UN for maintain the Blue Helmets around the world. In 2010-11, the on going 14 operations have had an allocation of $7.83 billion. The overall cost of U.N. peacekeeping operations from 1948 to June 2010 amounts to almost $70 billion. While decisions to establish, maintain or expand these operations are taken by the U.N. Security Council, funding them is the collective responsibility of member states, which are legally obligated to pay their share of the peacekeeping budget.
On this day today, let us not forget these soldiers who have taken upon them the sacred duty of ensuring peace and stability in the troubled lands, and helping the wretched people to stand on their feet once again. We should also not forget those who were slain in these operations for a peaceful world forever.
UN peacekeeping missions involving Pakistan (Wikipedia)