Peacekeeping : Perspective from Pakistan

Book Review by Dr Atique Ur Rehman

International Peacekeeping, perspectives from #Pakistan, a book edited by Dr Tughral Yamin has been termed as unique research work on international peacekeeping. It is first concise academic account on international peacekeeping focusing on Pakistan’s perspective. Pakistan has not only made a niche for itself in international peacekeeping, it uses it as an instrument of foreign policy. At the moment, with 4392 peacekeepers, Pakistan is 5th largest contributor in #UN peacekeeping operations around the globe. Book under review, diversify various areas of UN peacekeeping operations, including its historical back ground. Besides editor, various writers from Center for International Peace and Stability ( #CIPS ), at National University of Science and Technology ( #NUST ) and veteran peacekeepers and professionals has contributed their ideas and thoughts. CIPS is recognized by UN as world leading peacekeeping training school. The book consists of 14 chapters each covering separate subject by different authors related to peacekeeping. The academic discussion opens up by reasoning the participation of Pakistani troops in UN mission. It justifys that participation in UN peacekeeping operations provide Pakistan the limited political clout like other nations, to present their credentials as responsible member of #UNO. It gives opportunity to Pakistan to showcase the skill and professionalism of its armed forces in international conflict zones. It also afford an opportunity for military personnel to work alongside other world armies.
Chapter six of the book discuss case studies of UN Peaceeking operations in #Rwanda (1994), #Srebrenica (1995) and #Somalia (1993). It brings out the reasons of #PakistanArmy troops success and failure of other two UN missions.
An internal UN report, 1999 stunned the world about UN failures leading to deaths of thousands of Bosnian Muslims under its protection in Srebrenica in 1995. The report highlighted policy failures, command and structural weaknesses and squabbling within the Security Council itself which led to the fiasco. Most of these errors could have been avoided if timely decision were taken.
The mandate of UN peace keepers was to keep and maintain peace amongst the warring parties in Bosnia, but the action of the Dutch soldiers underpinned their complicity in the Srebrenica genocide. Dutch Supreme Court belatedly held its own government liable for 10 percent of the damage caused due to inaction of its soldiers to prevent massacare of hundreds of Muslim men in Srebrenica by rampaging Serbian solders in 1995.
Another shocking report about failure of UN mission to prevent the genocide of half a million Rawandans in 1994, a testimony to an unsuccessful peacekeeping operation. Post genocide report was highly critical of the conduct of UN and two principal UNSC member (US&Britain) over their careless and casual response to the prescient warning of a looming genocide. Belgian soldiers’s withdrawn by UN from area resulted into deaths of thousands of Tutsis. UN instructed to withdraw to save lives of white UN workers. It was an act of cowardice.
In contrast to Srebrenica and Rwanda, Pakistani troops proved highly professional and dependable peacekeepers in Somalia. US had formally requested for help to Pakistan, to rescue their marines when they became trapped after their abortive mission on a hotel in downtown Mogadishu on the tip-off of a suspected meeting of Somali leadership on October 3, 1993. Pakistan Army troops demonstrated unwavering gallantry in rescuing American soldiers.
In all three cases narrated above, while troops of two other countries ( Belgium and Netherlands) have stains on their national emblems for failing to save lives and eventually causing the unforgettable genocidal events, the disposition of Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia is a true representation of successful peacekeeping diplomacy.
Pakistan’s contributions in peacekeeping has been based upon national interest, public opinion and international recognition. Though established in very difficult conditions in 2001, the peacekeeping mission in #SierraLeone is regarded as most successful in UN history. Strategy, adopted by Pakistani troops in Sierra Leon, is taken as an example by rest of the UN peacekeeping missions. It was mainly through winning hearts and minds of locals by Pakistan Army contingent. Similar strategy in Liberia earned Pakistan laurels.
The discussion evaluates that use of Diehl and Druckman’s framework for evaluation to better understand the factors that impact the sustainability of nation building measures when mandate of the UN missions has considerable similarities. Study presents three case studies, Liberia, El-Salvador and East Timur. UN is mostly ambitious in terms of defining a mission’s mandate. The use of loose and subjective terms such as ‘democratization’, ‘community-building’, and ‘ civil-liberties’ are often not limited and defined by quantitative parameters. Thus, it becomes difficult to use these objectives to measure the sustainability of UN missions. UN mission members must not have any vested interest as they expressed in case of Liberia. Unilateral objectives on part of UN should be avoided and local stake holders must be taken into confidence. Taking locals into confidence helped in establishing peace in East Timur but UN faced difficulties in ElSalvador becase they did not adopt same approach.
UN peacekeeping operations have evolved over the years through a rigorous deliberation and hardwork. The policy in vogue which was crafted in 2015 is comprehensive and in details. It covers the shortfalls which had been happening in the past.
The book provide a detailed and open insight into various aspects of the UN peacekeeping mission around the world through case studies and arguments. Book will be launched on 8 March under banner of Institute of Policy Studies in collaboration with National University of Science and Technology.

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