ISLAMABAD - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday categorically stated that drones should be used only for collection of information in accordance with the international laws.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of International Centre for Peace and Stability here at the National University of Science and Technology, the UN Secretary General said every effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties in the use of armed drones.

“As I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones like any other weapon should be subject to long-standing international law, including international humanitarian law,” he said to applause from an audience.”This is a very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.”

Ban Ki-moon said the history of UN’s peacekeeping efforts was incomplete without mentioning Pakistan’s immense contribution for peace and security.

“Pakistan’s engagement with the United Nations has been crucial in carrying out wider peacekeeping across the globe,” he said.

The UN Secretary General lauded the services of Pakistan’s over 8,000 “finest men and women soldiers” deputed as UN peacekeepers in different parts of the world including Liberia, Western Sahara and Ivory Coast.

Ban Ki-moon said there was a need to overcome the short-term problems of security by strengthening the long-term foundations of peace building.

He hoped that the United Nations and Pakistan would together pursue their shared goals of global peace.

Addressing the function, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that Pakistan being a responsible nation would continue its support in establishing peace in the world under the flag of United Nations. He said that Pakistan has always responded positively to the call of United Nation’s requirements for its global peacekeeping missions. 

The ceremony was also attended by PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Masood Khan.

Addressing on the occasion, Director General Military Operations Major General Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed said Pakistan is actively playing a leading role in establishing peace in the world. He said that 136 Pakistani soldiers were martyred while wearing blue helmets of the UN.

The UN Chief also inaugurated a photographic exhibition depicting role and sacrifices of the doctors and military personnel of Pakistan Army in the world peace.

Later, in meeting between the UN Secretary General and Sartaj Aziz at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a wide range of issues on the United Nations agenda, regional and global political and security situation came under discussion.

Sartaj reaffirmed the government’s commitment towards constructive engagement with the United Nations on a host of issues including international peace and security, development, human rights and climate change. Ban was scheduled to meet the Speaker of the National Assembly later. He will attend the 14th August Flag Hoisting Ceremony and meet the President and the Prime Minister today.

The United States insists the drone strikes are legal and in May President Barack Obama laid out strict guidelines for their use.

Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism says the US has carried out nearly 400 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing up to 3,500 people, including hundreds of civilians.