UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has met the United Nations target of deploying 15 percent female military and staff officers in UN peacekeeping missions in line with efforts to enhance women’s participation in the world body’s flagship activity, a senior Pakistani diplomat has said.

Speaking in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on Monday, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said she was proud to point out that Pakistan has gone up from zero percent participation of women in peacekeeping to 15 percent in 18 months.

At the same time, she told the committee that Pakistan is deploying an “engagement team” consisting of women to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in May. Pakistani peacekeepers have been serving in DRC since 1999.

“Our faith in peacekeeping, as an indispensable tool for the maintenance of international peace and security, is firm and abiding,” the Pakistani envoy added.

The Special Committee brings together all stakeholders of UN peacekeeping -- troop and police contributors, financial contributors, Security Council members and the UN Secretariat.

Ambassador Lodhi also called for “strengthening” the United Nations Military Observer Mission in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, to enable it to deal with the rising tensions in the disputed region.

“We believe UNMOGIP has been and continues to play an important role in the maintenance of peace and security in a volatile neighbourhood,” she said.

In her remarks, the Pakistani envoy said peacekeepers demonstrate that their response in hostile situations does not constrain the use of force. However, the fundamentals of peacekeeping must be preserved, she said, noting Pakistan’s contributions as a longstanding and consistent troop and police contributing country.

The Special Committee must play its role in building norms and making recommendations. Deployment decisions must be based on knowledge of the situation on the ground, in consultation with the troop-contributing countries, she said, adding that Pakistan and the United Kingdom had drafted recommendations in this regard.

Yet, the Pakistani envoy said cost-cutting exercises must not overlook the fact that peacekeeping is itself cost-effective, deserving of adequate financial and material resources with effective reviews and assessments. In this vein, troop-contributing countries must be more involved in related peacekeeping processes.

Peacekeeping works best when there is a peace to keep, with a robust political track that enhances efforts, she said. However, doing more with less is not sustainable and missions must be adequately equipped.

Earlier, President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Maria Fernanda Espinosa said that Pakistan has made a remarkable contribution to UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

She gave these remarks during her visit to the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad last month.

Espinosa termed Pakistan one of the largest countries to have contributed to bringing peace in areas marred by insecurity and unrest. She was accompanied by Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi.

According to the reports, women only account for 5 per cent of uniformed personnel in the United Nations’ peace operations in 2018 despite slight increase in their participation.

The UN Department of Peace Operations is leading 14 peacekeeping missions across the globe, half of which are stationed in Africa. The top ten troop and police contributing member states are Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Rwanda, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Ghana and China.