New Age Islam Edit Bureau
29 May 2018
Being Mad About Peace
By Jawed Naqvi
Need For New Thinking In Indo-Pak
By Shahid M Amin
International Day Of UN Peacekeepers
By Mohammad Jamil
A Little Less Ambition, Please
By Arifa Noor
By Zarrar Khuhro
Watching America From Within
By Shahid Javed Burki
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
May 29, 2018
“YE deewangi kab khatam hogi?” When will
this madness end? The disarming question from former Indian vice president
Hamid Ansari prompted Pakistan’s ex-spy chief retired Lt-Gen Asad Durrani to
agree to do a book with his friend, the former RAW chief, Amarjit Singh Dulat.
The Dulat-Durrani book explores Ansari’s
poser from different angles. Luckily, it has found a clear constituency in
India, whereas in Pakistan it has incurred censure, mostly. The duo slams
right-wing hawks on both sides, usually their own. Others could find in the
book a useful compendium of views and facts that are mostly known but rarely acknowledged
officially. Above all, there is in it a much-needed self-criticism from both
sides, without which their assessment of each other or of the Western hold on
South Asia would perhaps not be nearly so credible.
For Indians, there was also an occult reason
of interest. The book release last week coincided with the swearing in of a new
coalition in Karnataka. Look at the dramatis personae in both places. They
comprised opposition to the Modi government, virtually as a theme. The book is
a discussion including agreements and differences larded with riveting banter
between the former spy chiefs of India and Pakistan.
One can understand his colleagues being
miffed with something Gen Durrani said, but why are the politicians so worked
Moderated by an Indian journalist, its
release attracted the presence of Dr Manmohan Singh, former BJP foreign
minister Yashwant Sinha and Kashmiri factotum Farooq Abdullah among other
critics of the Modi establishment. The Karnataka jamboree comprised one of the
largest gatherings of opposition satraps in recent memory and it came about
after foiling Modi’s chances of cobbling his own coalition there.
It is all too well known that the book
contains criticism of Prime Minister Modi’s policy on Kashmir and Pakistan.
Which is more or less what the entire Indian opposition has been saying albeit
in different decibels.
In Pakistan, where the book has not been
released and I’m not sure why that is so, there has been mostly criticism of
Durrani. He has been ordered to explain his conduct, according to reports, to
the army headquarters for joining hands with Dulat, a rare spy who has headed
the Intelligence Bureau and RAW at different times. It would have been far more
rewarding for Pakistani politicians and other troubled souls to read the book
before taking a view one way or another.
Consider, for example, Gen Durrani’s
straightforward confession, which could have irked his former colleagues. “The
establishments in the US, Pakistan and India are usually working for their own
good rather than for the good of their public.” Who could disagree with that
open secret, and how often do we hear such views so candidly expressed by those
who have sat in the cockpit?
After the initial fuss, the Jadhav issue
has gone quiet, says the mediator, Aditya Sinha.
Gen Durrani agrees. “I’m happy if nothing
is happening, such shor-sharaba has no place. There’s a way to go about it. We should
not have broached it with the poor Iranian president while he was an honoured
guest. And it was embarrassing that the faux pas was committed by the army
Mr Dulat had correctly predicted President
Trump’s victory, admits Durrani but claims to have backed the outcome
regardless. “I give Mr Dulat credit that he said Trump is likely to win the
election. I was wishy-washy about it though I wanted him to win because he was
one of those that could shake up the establishment … Two, I considered Hillary
Clinton a known disaster. Get rid of the known disaster and even if the other
option was to be a bigger disaster. At least that’s not known yet. It soon
became certain he would be a known and established disaster.”
The discussion about Trump’s Afghanistan
policy is critical to the book, and both spooks seem wary of American
involvement in the country. I think somewhere in the book or during the book
release someone said that if you could solve Kashmir, Afghanistan would be a
cakewalk. The discussion on Afghanistan gives the opposite impression — that if
we can resolve Kabul we can untangle Srinagar in no time.
“We’re supposed to have a strategic
relationship with the US,” says Dulat only to quickly question its feasibility.
“Probably the Americans have in mind that India will provide a counterbalance
to China. This is wishful thinking. Because (a) we are not in a position to do
so, and (b) no government in Delhi would offend the Chinese beyond a point.
They won’t play proxy for somebody else.” The truth of the assertion will be
tested at the Shanghai group’s meeting in China next month.
The element of madness is not confined to
India and Pakistan alone. As the book wonders, for example, what would be
Trump’s reaction if there were a major terrorist strike in the US? Gen Durrani
believes the response would be drastic if the origin was in Pakistan. However,
an invasion or a spectacular attack was not likely as it is usually against a
weak and indefensible country that can’t retaliate. “But what can Pakistan do?
We need not talk about that. But seeing the power Pakistan has within the
country and the region, I doubt an Afghan-type attack will take place. A few
bombs here and there we’d expect.”
If hatred of each other, real or contrived,
is an aspect of their madness how mad is the idea of their coalescing into a
confederation? Find out the delightful truth about that dream too in the book.
Hamid Ansari deserves our gratitude for
provoking this insanely candid discussion although it could have taken place
less controversially had the deep state on both sides not put the Sharm
el-Shaikh agreement in the thresher.
Need For New Thinking in Indo-Pak Ties
May 29, 2018
DIFFERENCE of opinion is natural in any
democratic society. Indeed this is the sign of a free people who have the right
to express their views on any issue under discussion. But this must not lead to
acrimonious debate, bitter divisions, and a cacophony of opinion that give the
impression of a divided nation. This is where at times we go wrong in Pakistan.
In the heat of the argument, we can lose a sense of balance, and emotions often
tend to override sensible opinion. We start questioning even the patriotism of
our political opponents. In our chequered political history, there were times
when Nawaz Sharif used to say that Benazir Bhutto was a security risk or that
she and Pakistan could not go together. The wheel has now turned full circle
and at present some political opponents are condemning Nawaz Sharif as a
traitor and an Indian agent.
This is quite preposterous and unworthy of
serious consideration. Similar accusations have been made against ex-President
Pervez Musharraf and many others and should be eschewed. In fact, an objective
analysis would show that most of our rulers had sought to act in the best
interests of Pakistan. Their judgement might have been defective in some cases,
and mistakes were made, but their patriotic intentions should not be doubted.
The common tendency to denigrate former rulers and political opponents often
leads to national demoralisation. Some of us never seem to find any good in our
past rulers, reinforcing an impression that we have made a mess of our country.
But the reality is that Pakistan has come a long way since its independence and
is one of the most important countries in the world. We have often occupied
central stage in world issues and our international importance has been
recognised by friends and foes.
In any mature nation, there are some
unwritten red lines. People may disagree with each other strongly, but must not
give the impression of a divided nation or allow an opportunity to foreign
enemies to fish in troubled waters. There is another red line viz. that we must
close ranks when it comes to any matter of national interest. In other words,
we may quarrel with ourselves internally but when it comes to foreign
relations, particularly issues with unfriendly countries, we must speak with a
common voice. Some people pretend that they do not know what constitutes
national interests. These may be described as the vital interests of a state.
The foremost national interest is survival of the state and its independence,
sovereignty and territorial integrity. If the state itself is gone, no other
national interest survives. Economic welfare i.e. trade, aid and investment are
also important national interests. Protection/promotion of values constitute
another national interest.
Clearly, the most important part of our
foreign policy relates to relations with India. We would like to see a
friendly, stable relationship with our largest neighbour. However, this is
possible only if India also has a similar vision. But it is a fact that India
has all along posed an existential threat to Pakistan. The Hindu majority had
bitterly opposed the creation of Pakistan but finally accepted partition of the
South Asian sub-continent as a short-time expedient in order to secure the end
of British colonial rule. The Indian leadership was confident that Pakistan was
an impractical idea and could not last and it did all in its power to expedite
The fact that this did not happen is a
lasting tribute to the patriotism of the Pakistani people. The Kashmir issue
became the litmus test of the ideological divide: with India denying the
validity of the two-nation theory that had led to the division of India.
Seventy years have passed and India continues to use brute force to suppress
the Kashmiris’ aspiration for self-determination. Peace in the sub-continent
has become hostage of the Kashmir dispute. It is arguable; however, that
Kashmir is perhaps a symptom of the deeper malaise viz. India’s continued
unwillingness to accept the sovereign existence of Pakistan. On Pakistan’s part
also, there has to be a recognition that the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved
by military means or through the use of non-state actors. In fact, the latter’s
activities play right into India’s hands by providing credibility to its
allegations that there is cross-border terrorism or that Islamist terrorism is
at play here, a charge that finds ready acceptance in the West. The best hope
for solution of Kashmir issue lies in the unflinching freedom struggle being
carried on by the Kashmiri people. It will sooner or later bring a change of
thinking in India, as happened in the case of Algeria, Vietnam and South
Moreover, there are other pragmatic reasons
why India and Pakistan will finally have to find a modus vivendi for peaceful
coexistence. Both are nuclear powers with missile capability. War would destroy
both of them and must, therefore, be ruled out as a viable option. Jingoists on
both sides have to be overruled by sensible opinion. There is no doubt that
peaceful coexistence between India and Pakistan would open the door to fruitful
economic cooperation and allow both countries to concentrate on fighting the
real enemy: poverty, disease and ignorance. The immense resources being spent
wastefully by both countries on war preparations and military expenditure could
be diverted to raise the standard of living. In fact, the millions of poor who
constitute the majority in both countries have been the biggest losers due to
their unending military confrontation.
Now that there are prospects of a peace
breakthrough in Korea, where the north and south have been acting like mortal
enemies since 1945, there should be incentive for a similar progress in South
Asia. The two Koreas have followed opposite paths, both internally and
externally. They fought a three-year war in 1950-53 and have had any number of
military crises. If they can still find a peaceful solution to their problems,
why can this not be done in the sub-continent? There are so many things that
India and Pakistan have in common and peace would usher in exchange of cultural
ties, no less than commercial interchanges.
THE PML-N is bent upon on keeping the
entire country guessing. From Panama to the Qatari letter to the differences
between the two brothers to its dollar policy and its election strategy, there
is little the party is saying with one voice.
Hence, while Nawaz Sharif seemed to be
sticking to his notion of a confrontation with the powers that be, Prime
Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed his leader had been misquoted.
Then, Mian Sahib asked for a national
commission to look into his Mumbai statement and to decide who is guilty of
Inevitably, the hapless Abbasi was asked
about his boss and predecessor’s demand and in his bid to do (yet again) some
damage control, the prime minister provided a broader and more palatable agenda
— to unveil hidden facts about all the events since 1947. A tall order indeed.
He asked for consensus among the parties
after the election to form this truth and reconciliation commission, without
explaining what hidden events he had in mind.
Truth be told, the interference in politics
by non-civilians is, perhaps, our worst-kept secret. Didn’t Javed Hashmi know a
coup would be carried out through the judiciary, years before it actually
happened? And he made sure that all of us knew this.
And yet, there were few raised eyebrows;
instead, there were a few voices of support for Abbasi sahib’s suggestion.
Perhaps this is because few want to
question a call for a truth and reconciliation commission. While we still
haven’t stopped sniggering at those who called themselves ‘Nelson Mandela’
after a few days of imprisonment, no sneers or scepticism confront the demand
for a TRC.
The actual experience of a truth and
reconciliation commission is far from perfect.
But it’s the wont of cynicism to dismiss
all notions romantic and also unrealistic political dreams. So here comes a
bucket full of cold water.
Born of the South African experience at the
end of apartheid, the TRC was suggested as a form of restorative instead of
retributive justice, which would help a country and society heal by coming to
terms with its past. The aim was to hold public hearings where victims as well
as oppressors could share their experiences.
But there were practical reasons for this
form of justice. The TRC may have come at the end of apartheid but the end of
the regime did not mean that those who perpetrated violence during it could now
be identified and punished.
They were part of the system, present at
many posts. Pursuing and prosecuting them could have led to chaos at a time
when it was in everyone’s interest to smoothly move towards election. Hence
those at the helm came up with a different idea of justice — where instead of
retribution, the simple telling of truth would repair a fractured society.
So, our good-intentioned prime minister
feels his quaid might get some closure if those who wronged him will stand up
and confess to how and when various PML-N governments were destabilised or
attempts made to do so; in other words, a TRC would mean that the Asghar Khan
case would be left where it is without any retribution for those accepting or
giving the money.
There is no doubt Mian Sahib would like a
more retributive option — to try Gen Musharraf and perhaps even the
intelligence chief who asked him to resign — but Abbasi knows that a truth and
reconciliation commission may be a more ‘doable’ option. However, even in this
case, the consensus he wants to forge cannot simply include the political
parties but also the military.
But why will the military join the process?
It’s hard to think of a single reason why. Had such a commission been part of
the ‘deal’ in 2007, the institution might just have been compelled to. But at
present, sitting pretty, as it is, it’s hard to imagine the institution being
And will it be able to get its retired
officials to attend — considering that retired generals Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani
can barely agree on what happened in 1990? And what about the bureaucracy that
was part and parcel of our authoritarian history?
But then, for those who think a truth and
reconciliation commission offers all that its title claims, the actual experience
of the TRC is far from perfect. It has its fair share of critics, especially
those who suffered the excesses of the apartheid regime (the experience
elsewhere appears to be no different). They felt that justice was not delivered
without punishing those who had been at fault. There were also efforts by the
other side to block the process.
For instance, F.W. de Klerk, who appeared
before the commission to apologise, approached the courts to stop being
implicated in a case of bombings in the 1980s in the commission’s report.
Another former president, P.W. Botha, refused to appear before the commission.
But perhaps the most important difference
between what the prime minister is asking for and what most truth and
reconciliation commissions around the world have in common with each other is
that the latter tend to be established to look into widespread human rights
abuses by the state. From South Africa to Kenya to Morocco and East Timor, the
objective is to document the tales of oppression and give a voice to the
But what the prime minister and his
predecessor are asking for is far different. While they may have been
imprisoned under military regimes and been treated unfairly, they have hardly
been victims of severe state violence.
While we may need such committees to
perhaps address the grievances of many (individuals as well as communities) who
have suffered at the hands of the state, mainstream political parties,
especially the PML-N, have not really been victims in this sense. Political
parties should consider a dialogue with the military (once suggested by the
PPP’s Farhatullah Babar), instead of a truth and reconciliation commission.
The divisions within our political elites
need addressing — but there are less grandiose ways of doing so than drawing
parallels with apartheid and asking for a TRC.
May 28, 2018
WHO’S afraid of a little Armageddon?
Certainly not evangelical US pastors Robert Jeffress and Robert Hagee, both of
whom spoke at the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
It was a glittering affair, graced as it
was by the presence of First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, the
so-called ‘Clown Prince’ Jared Kushner. Guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres
with a side of ritual human sacrifice as dozens of Palestinians were mowed down
by Israeli snipers exercising the restraint and decorum we have come to expect
from the ‘most moral army’ of the ‘Middle East’s only democracy’.
But it wasn’t democracy that brought the
preachers to the yard, nor was it any kind of love for the Jewish people.
Jeffress, for example, is on record as having said that ‘Jews cannot be saved’
(and are thus destined for hell) and that Hitler was a ‘hunter’ sent by God to
usher the Jews to the Promised Land — in short, someone Jews should in fact be
grateful for, in the larger picture.
At the ceremony, Jeffress called the
inauguration “a historic moment because it represents the United States
recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, something that the Bible and
secular history have told us for 3,000 years”.
Unsurprisingly, evangelicals are also
hardcore Trump supporters.
Well before he had even been invited,
Jeffress had called Jerusalem “the touchstone of prophecy”. Prophecy: that’s
the key to reconciling any contradiction there may be in Jeffress’ views on
Jews and his unstinting support for Israel. Hagee spelled it out even more
clearly, saying, “[shifting the embassy] is a fulfilment of the biblical
position in the Torah, where God promises … He will make Israel the head of the
nations, and that towards the end of days, Jerusalem and Israel will be the
epicentre of everything that’s going to happen”.
End of Days: those three words sum up the
attachment that these preachers and countless others like them have with
Israel; they truly believe that the shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem
will set into motion a series of prophesised events eventually leading to the
trials of the Tribulation (a period where the antichrist will rule the world),
which will be followed by the Rapture (in which all believing Christians will
be raised to the heavens, and which will eventually lead to the battle of
Armageddon and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Here’s the rough timeline: the Jews return
to Israel, the Temple of Solomon is rebuilt (the Third Temple, to be exact) and
then, and only then, does the Messiah return to lead the righteous in the final
war against the forces of Darkness.
What the preachers believe, the flock does
too: in a poll conducted last year, 80 per cent of US evangelical voters said
they believed God had granted the entirety of the Holy Land (which comprises
areas beyond the current political boundaries of Israel) to the Jewish people.
A similar number evinced the belief that the creation of Israel was the
fulfilment of biblical prophecy, and would hasten the Second Coming of Christ.
It follows logically, that a similar majority also said that their political
support for Israel was based on this very belief, and — in a more recent poll —
the overwhelming majority also supported the embassy move.
Unsurprisingly, evangelicals are also
hardcore Trump supporters, and he enjoys a 75pc favourability rating among that
group, as opposed to about 42pc in the general population. Evangelicals also
tend to be highly motivated voters and political workers and are considered a
crucial vote bank in certain states.
Many Jewish fundamentalists share the
evangelicals’ beliefs — up to a point. Asaf Fried, spokesman for the United
Temple Movement, hailed Trump as a “special and holy” man whose actions were
“guided by God” and were “an enormous step [towards] bringing the temple”. As
far as the Return and Rebuilding go, the evangelicals are on the same page as Fried
and his many supporters: both are waiting on a messiah, but after that all bets
are off, as one creed’s Holy Warriors are the others’ Wretched Unbelievers.
Until then, they’re the best of buds.
An excellent example of this covenant of
convenience can be found in the person of the US ambassador to Israel, David
Friedman — the man who invited Jeffress to speak at the ceremony. Friedman was
recently pictured smiling broadly while posing with a picture of Jerusalem with
the Dome of the Rock mosque photo-shopped and replaced by the Third Temple (the
Dome of the Rock would have to be pulled down in order for the temple to be
rebuilt), and when called out on it, claimed it was an error and that he was
“as mortified by it as any Palestinian”. That’s cute coming from a man who
staunchly defends Israeli settlements and has personally raised millions for
radical West Bank Jewish settlers. All’s fair, after all, when it comes to love
and holy war.
Watching America from within, as I do, can
be very dispiriting. The loss of comfort is considerable for those who, like
me, belong to the Muslim faith. For those of us who have come from Pakistan,
the burden is twice as heavy. There can be no doubt what Donald Trump feels
about Pakistan. That is so even though he knows very little about the country
of my origin. Not too long ago, I met a retired lieutenant general who knew
well some of the senior former American military men who occupy important
positions in the Trump administration. The encounter was at a reception in
Washington. “If you put a map of Asia with countries not identified by their
names and ask the president to point to Pakistan — even Afghanistan — he is
likely to put his finger on Nepal or Laos,” he said. Trump’s anger at Pakistan
is based on the assumption that his country is not succeeding in Afghanistan
because of Pakistan’s perceived treachery. He has been quite vocal about his
distaste for Pakistan. It was apparent on August 21st, 2017 when he announced
his administration’s approach towards Afghanistan. His first tweet of the year
2018 was a sharp rebuke of Pakistan, brought about by no particular
“Pakistan,” wrote the president has “given
us nothing but lies and deceit,” and accused it of providing safe havens to the
terrorists “we hunt in Afghanistan.” Three days later, the United States
government announced that it was suspending nearly all of the $13 billion in
annual security aid to Pakistan. In putting Pakistan down, Trump has expressed
a strong preference for strengthening relations with India. Nikki Haley, the
United States ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement that her
government has asked “India to keep and eye on Pakistan.”
Trump and his administration have gone
beyond expressing anti-Pakistan sentiment and suspending financial aid. On May
11th, the United States’ State Department barred diplomats working at the
Pakistani embassy in Washington from travelling outside a 25-mile radius around
the city without approval. Pakistan retaliated on the same day. While the
United States’ restrictions apply only to the diplomats assigned to the embassy
and their families, the Pakistani move was more far-reaching. It banned the
Americans from using tinted glass windows or using diplomatic licence plates on
Affecting the Pakistanis living in the
United States is also the sharp shift in the attitudes and worldview of a large
segment of the population who are now to the extreme right of the American
political spectrum. This is has happened as a result of the political rise of
Donald Trump. His political rhetoric encouraged these groups. The extreme right
is peopled mostly by angry white men. As Amanda Taub wrote in an analysis for
The New York Times, “Two of modern society’s most disruptive forces — anger
amongst many men over social changes they see as a threat, and the rise of
social media upending how ideas spread and communicate. The alt-right wing
populism, men’s rights groups and a renewed white supremacist movement have
capitalised on many white men’s feelings of loss in recent years. The groups
vary in who they blame, but they provide a sense of meaning and place for their
I ran into this kind of sentiment in a
chance encounter with a young American at the airport in Istanbul. This
happened a few days after Trump had unexpectedly won the US presidency. I was
returning from Astana, Kazakhstan, after attending the annual meeting of a
think tank called the Astana Club. I changed planes at Istanbul and was waiting
at the business class gate for boarding the Turkish Airlines flight to
Washington. I was the only person at the gate when a young, lightly bearded
white man walked up to me and asked if I was travelling business class. I
thought the question was a bit strange since I was waiting at the business
class gate. He then volunteered some information about himself. He had just
returned from some Central Asian country after signing a large, lucrative
oil-exploration deal. But he had missed the flight to Denver, Colorado, where
he lived. He was re-routed through Washington.
It was not clear to me why he offered all
that information about himself. He then asked me where I was headed, something
that would have been obvious to him since I was standing at the gate for a
flight to Washington. I said I was also going to Washington. “Why are you going
there?” he asked. I said I lived there. “Oh come on; that’s not what I am
asking.” Now I understood what he was getting at. “Young man, I have lived in
the United States longer than you have. I moved to America before you were
born. But that is not what you are interested in. You want to know where I am
originally from. I am from Pakistan and I am very proud of my Muslim heritage.
Is there anything more I could tell you about myself?”
He said I spoke very well; I must be highly
educated. I said I was. “You are probably holding a multi-million dollar job in
an American corporation working out of Washington. It is people like you who
are blocking the advance of people like me, the original Americans.” He then
said that I was the sort of a person who must have voted for “that criminal” in
the November elections. He was obviously referring to Hillary Clinton. I said I
did and then walked away. This encounter was a good indication of where America
was headed in terms of the expressed views of some of its citizens towards the
non-white segment of the population. This anger was all there but Trump and his
rhetoric made his followers less inhibited towards expressing it.
International Day of UN Peacekeepers
THE United Nations General Assembly
designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers,
which is observed every year. The theme for the 2018 International Day of UN
Peacekeepers is “70 Years of Service and Sacrifice” to honour more than 3,700
peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948,
including 129 who died last year. This year, the United Nations celebrates the
70th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, a unique and dynamic instrument developed
to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace. The
first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948, when the Security
Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to
the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
(UNTSO) to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab
At a ceremony held in May 2016, the United
Nations honored five Pakistani soldiers for their sacrifices, among over 137
peacekeepers who laid down their lives while serving the cause of peace around
the world. On May 29, commemorative activities are held at United Nations
Headquarters in New York, and at peacekeeping operations and offices around the
world. Today, UN peacekeeping deploys 125,000 including 91,000 military
personnel, 13,000 police officers as well as 17000 international civilian staff
that are serving in 16 operations on four continents. UN peacekeeping
operations receive contributions of military and police personnel from 124
Member States as well as critical equipment to sustain the operations.
Peacekeeping is truly a global partnership and this number reflects strong
global confidence in the value of the UN’s flagship enterprise.
In her treatise captioned ‘UN Peacekeeping
Missions: Pakistan’s Soft Power’ research assistant Ume-Farwa stated: “UN
peacekeeping missions are, indeed, an invaluable soft power asset for a leading
troops contributor like Pakistan. By contributing immensely and consistently to
the missions, Pakistan has established one fact: Pakistan stands for peace not
for war and, therefore, it has the potential to establish itself as an
international peacekeeping and peace building facilitator.” The International
Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was designated by the General Assembly in
2002, in tribute to men and women serving in peacekeeping operations for their
professionalism, dedication and courage. Peacekeeping has also proven to be a
solid investment in global peace, security, and prosperity. Despite the size
and breadth of its operations at just under $7 billion a year, peacekeeping’s
annual budget remains less than on half of one percent of global military
In 2013, Pakistan was the second largest
contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission with 8,163 personnel including 7,581
troops, 487 police officials and 95 military experts serving in the UN
operations in seven countries. At the present, Pakistan’s troops and advisors
are involved in peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, Ivory
Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and Western
Sahara etc. The UN General Assembly then dedicated May 29 to peacekeepers
because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision
Organisation (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations
in Palestine. Within one month of its coming into being, Pakistan joined the
United Nations and is committed to a world in which upholding human dignity is
the highest value and maintaining global peace a sacred duty.
Pakistan envisages a world, which is free
of want, hunger and deprivation – a world where justice and fair play govern
the affairs of human beings, and inequality, oppression and war are abhorred.
Pakistan has put this vision into practice by making significant contributions
to the principles and objectives of the UN Charter, in particular the promotion
and maintenance of international peace and security, as a member of the
Security Council and through its contribution to UN Peacekeeping. Two years ago
Pakistan was one of the largest troop contributors, constituting over 9% of
UN’s total deployment. Pakistan is also the sixth largest police contributor.
Last year, Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to peacekeeping operations of the
UN in various conflict zones. The role Pakistan played in UN Peacekeeping
Missions in Congo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, Haiti, Kosovo and Western
Sahara has greatly been appreciated.
The then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
had visited Pakistan on the eve of its Independence Day on 14h August 2013, and
hailed the country’s lead role in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Ban
Ki-Moon had said. “Training is a strategic investment in peacekeeping and here
you will build the skills in preparing peacekeepers to take on a new generation
of challenges.” Ban Ki-Moon told an audience at the inauguration of the Centre
for International Peace and Stability in Islamabad that he was overwhelmed with
gratitude: “gratitude as the United Nations Secretary-General and gratitude as
a global citizen for what Pakistan and her people have been doing for
international peace and security.”
It was a great honour for Pakistan when the
Secretary General said that more than 100 countries contributed troops and
police for United Nations peacekeeping missions, but Pakistan was number one.
He added it was impossible to speak about the history of UN peacekeeping
without highlighting the country’s contributions. Pakistani army peacekeepers
have participated in 43 UN peacekeeping missions including some of the most
challenging ones. As many as 153 Pakistani peacekeepers have sacrificed their
lives so far including 23 officers for global peace and stability under UN