The United Nations is often criticised for its lack of action in high-profile cases of human rights violations, such as Palestine, Serbia and now Burma, and rightly so; it is usually crippled by its dependency on nations whose interests are aligned against it. Yet most discussions on the UN gloss over the instances where the multilateral body has taken action, and taken it quite effectively. Over large swaths of Africa, and several other hot spots around the word, the UN remains the sole provider of shelter, food, healthcare and security. While it may not be able to force strong nations to adopt its recommendations, it can – and effectively does – help weaker nations maintain peace and stability in their region. The UN Peacekeeping Force – 125,000 strong and drawn from numerous nations – is the keystone to this ability, and on Thursday, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson praised Pakistani peacekeepers for their service under the UN flag in hot spots around the world.

Over the course of its lifetime, Pakistan has been a constant and generous contributor to the peacekeeping force, having volunteered more than 150, 000 soldiers to the cause. Presently the Pakistani contingent of 8,000 peacekeepers remains the second largest contribution; a commendable statistic. It must be appreciated that Pakistani military and civil leadership has continued the trend of sending its forces to serve under the UN and it is hoped that it is continued in the future. It may not completely justify the large military budget, but it is comforting fact that Pakistan’s large and highly trained military is being put to good use around the world. In a ceremony held in the New York headquarters of the UN, 5 Pakistani peacekeepers received posthumous awards for laying down their lives for the protection of people whom they had no cultural or linguistic link to. Considering the sizes of standing armies around the world the UN Peacekeeping force is a small one – perhaps if other highly militarised nations provided greater support to this force, instances like the Baga massacre or the Boko Haram attacks could have been prevented.