Pakistan underscores safety, security of UN peacekeepers amid new threats

UNITED NATIONS:Amid surging attacks on UN blue helmets serving hotspots around the world, Pakistan Thursday called for retooling the peacekeeping missions to ensure their safety and security.

“Pakistan has a special interest in protection of peacekeepers as we host a peacekeeping operations mission,” Ambassador Munir Akram said, referring to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistani envoy was speaking at the launch of a ‘Group of Friends’ devoted to advancing the safety and security of UN Peacekeepers. The group is composed of China, Brazil, Rwanda and Indonesia.

Pakistan, he said, has served in 46 missions across 28 countries, with 4400 peacekeepers currently deployed and 160 Pakistani peacekeepers having laid down their lives in the cause of peace.

Ambassador Akram congratulated the ‘Group of Friend’ for the “timely initiative”, pointing out that in recent weeks the UN peacekeepers have suffered increasing casualties, with their movements restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic that also limited the interaction with the host communities.

“Therefore,” he said, “there is a need to look again at the situation which we are facing on the ground and to see how we can respond better.”

In this regard, the Pakistani envoy stressed the need to elevate the political visibility of safety and security and put it at the center of robust peacekeeping.

Ambassador Akram also proposed that peacekeeping ought to be accompanied by efforts to promote political solutions. Such an effort, he said, should go in parallel with peacekeeping.

“Unless there are political solutions, we will continue to have fragile situations and dangerous environments that we are facing today,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding, “So a plea for a parallel approach to peacekeeping and political solutions is very useful.”