What is “Admiyat”? Respect for a man! Learn to appreciate the true worth of man.– Allama Iqbal
Peacekeeping has proven to be the most successful, flexible, and yet dynamic tool available to the United Nations in assisting the host countries and steering the difficult path from conflict to peace. United Nations Peacekeeping encompasses a range of various types of peacekeeping operations in three continents. Today’s multifaceted peacekeeping operations are called upon not only to perpetuate peace and security but also to promote the political process, protection of civilians, protection, and promotion of human rights and succour in restoring the rule of law.
Over 128 countries across the globe are contributing to troops, police, and civilian personnel for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations of the United Nations. Pakistan has a long, cherishable, and glorified legacy of serving under the Blue Flag. The very roots of our commitment to promoting international peace and security stem from the vision of our Founding Father Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan joined the United Nations soon after its independence on September 30, 1947, marking the beginning of an illustrious era that is unparalleled in history.
The support to UN peacekeeping operations began in 1960 when Pakistan deployed its first-ever contingent in United Nations operations in Congo. Commencing one step forward, over the past 60 years, Pakistan has been instrumental in implementing the mandate of United Nations missions across the globe. It is the most consistent and the 6th largest troop-contributing country, rendering services in nine missions across two continents. Pakistan Contingent is well apprised of the important role played by the United Nations in maintaining peace and security in many conflicted territories of the world.
Pakistan Army’s footprints in Darfur include Pakistan Army Contingent and staff officers in different sections of UNAMID and military observers. Contingent in Darfur has been rendering services with excellence under the umbrella of UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operations in Darfur) since 2008. Pakistan Army Contingent comprises Contingent Headquarters, Pakistan Battalion-8, and Pakistan Field Hospital-11. Contingent Headquarters mainly coordinates the work/functionality of both the outfits with Pakistan Army Headquarters, supervises the routine functioning of the complete contingent, and looks after the deployment and miscellaneous matters of staff officers and military observers.
Pakistan Battalion’s stay at Darfur has been remarkably fruitful for many reasons. Whether it was humanitarian assistance or escorting the logistics convoys, the routine patrolling activity or celebration of national days, Pakistan Battalion was always at the forefront in keeping the flag of Pakistan fluttering high.
Serving Beyond the Call of Duty in the Line of Peace. During more than yearlong employment, Pakistan Battalion has made all-out efforts to keep up with the mandate given by UNAMID. Pakistan Battalion-8 played a leading role due to its geolocation being occupied as the communication hub in the sector and proved its mettle in implementation of UNAMID mandate and projecting the positive image of Pakistan. Cordial relations remained the hallmark of Pakistan Battalion-8, where, intimate relations were established with the Sudanese officials and tribal leaders. They were invited on national/international days, organized within the TSs besides visiting them in their offices.
Pakistani battalions Gelling Well into the Culture
Pakistani Contingent has been mixing in well with the locals. In their moments of celebration and grief, the Pakistan Contingent is there to share both their happiness and sorrow.
Pakistani battalions Visiting the Locals for Goodwill
These efforts haven’t been limited to just these initiatives, at various occasions, Deputy Contingent Commander interacted with locals to get firsthand knowledge of the prevailing environment. Most of the local civilians are of the view that they feel more secure due to the presence of Pakistani Contingent. Taking the opportunity, humanitarian assistance was also arranged by distributing various items amongst the locals.
Pakistani battalions Organizing Friendly Matches/Activities
Pakistan Battalion-8 organized friendly football matches between UNAMID Peacekeepers and locals. Sports items and prizes among the local players, match officials, and IDPs notables were distributed by Pakistani Peacekeepers. Working Hand in Glove with UNAMID as Part of Pakistan Army’s Winning Hearts and Minds Campaign. Major General Henry Sweke Kamunde, Deputy Force Commander, visited Kabkabiya TS. Taking the opportunity, a humanitarian assistance activity was also arranged in which Major General Henry Sweke Kamunde distributed sports items among the children of Kabkabiya town.
Military Advisor UNHQ NY Visit
United Nations Military Advisor Lieutenant General Carlos Humberto Loitey visited Kabkabiya where he gave away goats to widows of the town to sustain their families. The effort was well appreciated by the United Nations. Community Welfare Programs. Pakistan Battalion has been organizing community welfare projects/programs. In one such program, Pakistan Battalion organized a two-day sewing training for widows. At the end of training sewing machines were also distributed among the widows. Other such initiatives such as repair/maintenance of an orphan’s house at Kabkabiya and construction of water wells were undertaken for the general welfare of the people.
Pakistani battalions Community Outreach Programs
On several occasions, key personnel of the Kabkabiya community was called at Kabkabiya TS. Different items of social usage were presented on their demand, which included prayer mats, utensils for ablution, and copies of the Holy Quran. Apart from that young children have been given books and stationery items as part of education endeavors made by the Pakistan Battalion.
Assisting UNAMID and Local Authorities in Maintaining Operational Worthiness. Pakistan Battalion has been at the forefront to promote peace in the area and has thus contributed very positively to the general security of the area.
In one such effort, Pakistan Battalion made all-out efforts to handover a police station at Kabkabiya locality. Deputy Joint Special Representative Miss Anita Kiki Gbeho graced the occasion and appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan Battalion in making the event a success. Her remarks are a manifestation of complete satisfaction.
Pakistani battalions Meeting Challenges When the Need Arose
Not only was this journey based on contribution to the local community but Pakistan Battalion had to go through the thick of time to earn the most coveted honor in the line of serving peace. It took an enormous amount of effort and drudging to deal with challenging situations as given below:
Pakistani battalions Peaceful Dilution of Demonstrations and Unrest
On several occasions, the local people, disenchanted over the ongoing unrest, took to demonstrations and sit-ins. Pakistan Battalion was always at the forefront to quell the mobs from getting violent as well as preventing the situation from escalation. Efforts of Pakistan Battalion’s professionalism have been admired in the Force Headquarters.
Pakistani battalions Test of Professionalism during Flash Floods
On several occasions, logistic administrative escorts were stuck due to bad weather conditions and flash floods, which made the move impossible. Sensing the dangers of the move, the peacekeepers decided to camp out for several days and nights in open skies.
Promoting Interfaith and Communal Harmony
It was an important part of the stay at the mission area to never forget celebrating national and religious events. Events that were celebrated attracted the attention of the international community who praised the spirit of the Pakistan Battalion at Darfur.
Pakistani battalions Celebration of Religious Days
Pakistan Battalion-8 organized and celebrated all religious functions with fervor and harmony. Eid functions were organized at team sites. Christmas function was celebrated by the Christian community on December 25, 2019. The event was well received by the Christian community at the team site.
Pakistan Field Hospital-11: The Pearl of UNAMID
It is the only level 2+ hospital with major and minor specialties able to handle all types of medical and surgical emergencies 24/7, provision of quality medical care by highly professional doctors and paramedics, embellished with state-of-the-art and modern electro-medical equipment and availability of top-of-the-range medicines. Pakistan Field Hospital has been providing medical treatment to not only the UNAMID staff but also to civilians in case of emergency. Due to its extraordinary medical services, Pakistan Field Hospital is accorded the title of “Pearl of UNAMID”.
Organizing Free Medical Camps for the Local Populace
Pakistan Field Hospital-11 has organized three free medical camps with the fostering of UNAMID in Kabkabiya, Darfur, and also has the honor of organizing the first-ever free eye camp in which 300 near vision glasses were given to the deserving patients after the complete eye examination. One of the free medical camps was organized with the pledge to the United Nations Day themed Breast Cancer Awareness/Pinktober. The aim was to raise breast cancer awareness among women. Her Excellency Deputy Joint Special Representative Madam Anita Kiki visited the free medical camp as the guest of honor.
Going one step further in the service to humanity, free wheelchairs, crutches and walkers were also distributed among the patients by PFH. Almost 6000 patients benefitted from all three free medical camps along with free specialist consultation and availability of free of cost medicines.
Pakistani battalions Combating COVID-19
The endeavors of Pakistan Army healers in Darfur and their services towards humanity speak volumes of their selfless devotion, professionalism, and hard work. As it is the only level 2+ hospital it receives medical evacuations from all over Darfur. In the recent and ongoing global calamity COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, where the whole world was facing a rampant and deadly virus, Darfur was also afflicted with this life-threatening virus. Pakistan Army healers treated many COVID-19 patients successfully by providing timely and quality care, the extraordinary efforts of Pakistan Army doctors were highly applauded not only by UNAMID but also by New York Headquarters. UNAMID’s photo of the day and tweets are a testimony to this. Pakistan Army healers sensitized not only UNAMID staff but also the local Sudanese about COVID-19 through a series of workshops, regular lectures, distribution of pamphlets, and displaying posters.
Role of Pakistan Army Lady Doctors
Lady officers of Pakistan Field Hospital-11 stand out in their community outreach programs aiming to raise awareness among the local populace, especially women and children against infectious and communicable diseases like COVID-19, cholera, chickenpox, mumps, and measles. The enlightenment encompasses precautionary measures and accentuating the significance of clean drinking water and repeated hand washing.
Pakistani female peacekeepers stand committed in their service towards humanity by spreading awareness through peace, hope, and kindness.
The commitment by the Pakistan Army in Darfur to execute the mandate of the United Nations is ineffable. With any commitment comes sacrifice, six Pakistani soldiers have rendered ultimate sacrifice during the discharge of duties and while restoring peace and stability in Sudan/Darfur. This honor behooves well for a country that firmly believes in the UN principles and valiantly stands for global peace. All in all, Pakistani Peacekeepers’ stay has been full of challenges and has been memorable keeping the flame of patriotism kindled along with the pledge to keep the flag of Pakistan fluttering high in the comity of nations. Pakistan is tirelessly working towards the promotion of peace and harmony among the nations of the world by accomplishing the mandate of the United Nations and also by upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter.