In his opening remarks at the photographic exhibition organized by the Pakistan Mission to the UN in New York on Monday to commemorate 50 years of Pakistanís participation in peacekeeping, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who was the chief guest at the event, greatly appreciated Pakistanís significant contribution to UN Peacekeeping Missions across the world, adding that this has brought credibility to the world body.
He specifically mentioned Pakistani peacekeepers who had served in some of the most difficult circumstance and demonstrated professionalism that brought laurels for the United Nations and Pakistan.
The Secretary General was accompanied by the Under Secretaries-Generals for the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Field Support and a number of other senior UN officials. A large number of Permanent Representatives of UN member states also attended the event. Director General Military Operations, Major General Javed Iqbal was also present on the occasion.
While remembering the great sacrifices rendered by Pakistan peacekeepers, the Secretary General said, ďWe know that this great contribution comes at a great cost. Tragically, 122 Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while proudly serving the United Nations. They are sons and daughters of Pakistan but they are also members of the United Nations family. We mourn their deaths. We remember their lives. And we vow to carry forward their valiant work for peaceĒ.
The Secretary General added, "The United Nations has 100,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world. One in ten is Pakistani. To put this another way, Pakistan is just one of the UNís 192 Member States Ö but it is deploying a tenth of our peacekeeping personnel.
The numbers tell only part of the story. The other part is played out in the lives of people recovering from war. Women who are treated by female members of Pakistanís medical unit and the children who play football on fields constructed by Pakistani troops as well as civilians who are able to live in peace thanks to the stabilizing presence of these brave Pakistanis.
Citing an inspiring couplet of philosopher-poet Allama Mohammad Iqbal, the Secretary General said that he sees "the same blend of strength and compassion in the images here today Ö and in the eyes of Pakistani forces dedicated not only to keeping the peace, but to keeping alive the values and the goals of the United Nations all over the world. ďThese photographs beautifully capture the dedication of Pakistanís troops Ö police Ö and civilian personnel. We see the pride on their faces. And we see the many ways they help people recovering from war.
In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistanís Permanent Representative to the UN underscored that Pakistanís consistent participation in UN Peacekeeping over five decades was a clear demonstration of its commitment towards maintenance of international peace and security.
The Ambassador further said that Pakistan considers peacekeeping the flagship activity of the United Nations and a noble undertaking, providing the basis on which the UN can lay foundations for peace and stability of countries affected by conflict. Pakistan has been at the forefront of the United Nations efforts to maintain international peace and security through contribution to UN Peacekeeping. Pakistan's commitment to and involvement in the United Nations Peacekeeping stems from its commitment to service to humanity, international peace, collective security, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building. Adherence to these elements has led it to actively cooperate and consistently participate in the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations.
Pakistan began participating in the UN Peacekeeping in 1960 when it deployed its troops in the United Nations Operation in Congo (ONUC). Over the past 50 years, Pakistan has been one of the largest and most consistent contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. Pakistan has participated in 38 UN Peacekeeping Missions contributing over 100,000 peacekeepers. 122 Pakistani peacekeepers have laid down their lives in the cause for achieving peace and forging tranquility in troubled countries of the world. In addition, around 100 personnel have been wounded. Since 2006 Pakistan is the largest troop contributing country with over 10,600 personnel deployed in nine peacekeeping missions. This constitutes 10% of the total UN peacekeeping deployment.
One minute silence was observed to pay homage to those Pakistani peacekeepers who laid down their lives in service of the United Nations.
New York, 25 April 2011