Written By: Lt Col Moin Ud Din
5th June is celebrated as 'Pakistan Peacekeepers Day' every year to pay tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives for the world peace while serving under the banner of United Nations (UN). This Day was institutionalized on 5 June 1993 after martyrdom of 24 peacekeepers from Pakistan in Somalia during Operation United Shield that helped Somali government in restoring peace at that time. Pakistan's journey with UN Peacekeeping operations began in 1960 when it deployed its first ever contingent in 'United Nations Operations in Congo' (ONUC). Over the past 54 years, Pakistan has been one of the most significant and consistent contributor for the UN peacekeeping missions around the world. Pakistan has hitherto participated in 41 such missions in 23 countries under challenging environments. Uptil now, 139 Pakistani peacekeepers including 22 officers (10% of UN total fatalities) have sacrificed their lives in noble cause of helping humanity, building peace and bringing stability across the regions under the banner of UN. Almost an equal number of Pakistani peacekeepers have been wounded over five decades during different missions. 89 Pakistanis, for their high level of professionalism and extra ordinary courage; have also been honoured by award of Dag Hammarskjöld Medal (posthumous).
Pakistan has so far deployed over 154,000 peacekeepers from Far East Asia to Central America. Current Pakistani contributions constitute more than 10% of the total UN peacekeeping deployment worldwide. Presently, Pakistani peacekeepers are deployed in Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Darfur (Sudan), Western Sahara, Haiti, Kosovo as well as UN Headquarters New York. The performance of Pakistani peacekeepers has been acknowledged worldwide by numerous world leaders and the UN leadership. In the words of Mr Ban Ki Moon, who during visit of Pakistan on 14 August 2013 said, “The commitment to global peace has come at a heavy price. We will forever remember the noble sacrifice of the 139 Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. This includes 24 Pakistani peacekeepers who perished in Mogadishu two decades ago in the most deadly day in the history of UN peacekeeping. As the Commander of UN Forces in Somalia later said, many are alive today because of the willingness and skill of the Pakistani soldiers in [the] most difficult and dangerous combat circumstances. As we look forward, let us honour these fallen heroes, their country and their cause: Pakistan and Peace.”