This year Pakistan celebrates 53 years of its association with United Nations peacekeeping. In May 1960, 400 Pakistani peacekeepers travelled to Congo. Since then, Pakistan has contributed more than 144,711 peacekeepers, serving in 41 missions in 23 countries. Till now, 133 Pakistani peacekeepers have given their lives, while defending peace and security in different parts of the world. Historically, Pakistan has been the largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping. Right now, 8,232 Pakistani peacekeepers are serving in Western Sahara, Haiti, DRC Congo, Darfur, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. The sheer geographical expanse covered by Pakistani peacekeepers is impressive. Over the last five decades, they have served in missions in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Pakistan also hosts one of the oldest United Nations peacekeeping missions - the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) - that monitors ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC).Pakistan supports blue helmets as one of the core functions of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. The people of Pakistan are proud of their troops, who are rendering services for peace around the globe in difficult circumstances. Peacekeeping has become a ‘capstone’ of our multilateral diplomacy. It is supported by the ethos of our nation. Pakistani peacekeepers have earned excellent reputation. They have conducted operations in most difficult and hostile environments, for instance in Somalia back in the early 1990s. Pakistani troops played a key role in stabilising the situations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Timor-Leste and Haiti, to name a few missions. In these countries, Pakistani peacekeepers are also remembered as peace-builders. They have always shown empathy in helping traumatised communities grapple with the tasks of rebuilding their shattered neighbourhoods. Pakistani doctors and nurses are remembered for their life-saving interventions and their healing touch. Paying a tribute to Pakistani peacekeepers in January 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “I have personally met brave Pakistani men and women, who serve proudly in some of our toughest missions around the world.”Blue helmets symbolise the United Nations’ quest for regional and international peace, security and stability. United Nations peacekeeping have saved and protected millions of lives and replaced strife with harmony. Needless to say, Pakistan has been a full partner in these efforts. More than ever, peacekeepers are at risk. In many situations, they are mistakenly perceived as partisan and combatant; and thus become targets of senseless and deliberate violence. On May 7 this year, Tanveer Hussain, a Pakistan peacekeeper serving in MONUSCO (United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC Congo) embraced martyrdom in South Kivu. The UN Secretary General was “appalled” by the killing. Tanveer, away from his home and homeland, was killed in a gunfight with a rebel group that ambushed a MONUSCO convoy. He is a martyr of peace.Because of the vulnerability of peacekeepers in conflict situations, measures for ensuring their safety and security are of utmost importance. Pakistan, in its capacity as Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping, hosted a special meeting on June 3 on the ‘safety and security of peacekeepers’. The meeting emphasised that timely threat assessment and effective implementation strategies should be essential tools in undertaking security-related steps, including training, operational readiness, and risk management and mitigation. Peacekeeping missions are effective means in the hands of the United Nations to deal with conflicts. Over the decades, these missions have developed the capacity to build peace. Early response in order to prevent conflict, address its root causes and “stem” its relapse are the most critical steps in that direction. Wider ownership of peacekeeping and peace-building by governments, regional organisations and development actors, as well as inclusive political dialogue are equally important. These missions require a more calibrated response and underpin United Nations peacekeeping as a “multilateral exercise under one UN flag”; pursued in accordance with the Charter’s guiding principles of consent, impartiality and non-use of force, except in self-defence or defence of the mandate.Bearing these principles in mind, Pakistan, during its Presidency of the UN Security Council in January this year, held a special session of the Council on the multi-dimensional approaches to peacekeeping. In that session, the Council ‘unanimously’ adopted resolution 2086 (2013), which was tabled by Pakistan and co-sponsored by other 14 Council members. Such a comprehensive resolution on peacekeeping was adopted after a gap of 11 years. The resolution emphasised: “United Nations peacekeeping activities should be conducted in a manner so as to facilitate post-conflict peace-building, prevention of relapse of armed conflicts and progress toward sustainable peace and development.”At the United Nations, Pakistan will maintain its dynamic profile and substantive contribution on peacekeeping.

The writer is Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and chairman of United Nations Security Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping.