UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan Monday underscored the need for reform and strengthening of the UN peacekeeping operations, the United Nations' flagship activity, to enable the world body to better correspond to evolving situations and requirements in its efforts to maintain peace and security. Reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to United Nations peacekeeping, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country would continue to contribute highly professional peacekeeping personnel, ranging from infantry to guard units, and provide the UN with amongst its best military commanders, staff officers and military observers.

The Pakistani leader was speaking at the UN Peacekeeping Summit convened by United States President Barack Obama and co-hosted by Pakistan on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary session of the United Nations General Assembly. He noted that blue Helmets were recognised as a symbol of peace the world over. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the summit on peacekeeping operations, its successes and the difficulties encountered by the troops.

Pakistan is among the top contributors of troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations in hotspots around the world. "We have also been at the forefront of norm- setting in peacekeeping," the prime minister said.

"We would continue deployment of precious assets like utility aviation, airport management facilities, signals communication units, transport, maintenance and logistics units, and field hospitals, alongside affordable field solutions to ensure rapid deployment," he told world leaders attending the meeting.

"Specifically, we are pledging an Infantry Battalion, Transport, Engineering and Signals companies, additional utility helicopters, a Level-II and a Level-III Hospital, and a Canine Platoon for deployment to future UN peacekeeping missions.

"We consider modern technology an important component of peacekeeping today. We, therefore, also commit to providing Surveillance Unmanned Unarmed Aerial Vehicles (drones) to enhance the capabilities related to protection of civilians and military personnel," Nawaz Sharif added. UN Peacekeeping, despite its successes, faced new challenges in a rapidly changing strategic scenario, the prime minister said, emphasizing the need for mobilization of resources to retain peacekeeping as an effective tool for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Pakistan, he said, has been fully engaged with the High-Level Panel and the ensuing process, with many of its recommendations incorporated in the report. These included the importance of consultations with Troop Contributing Countries; provision of better resources for peacekeeping operations; a two-phased mandate process; and the non-use of peacekeepers for counterterrorism. The PM said, "Our professional, well-trained and competent peacekeepers have never shied away from mandated tasks. They are deployed in the most difficult theatres, staying the course in Liberia, even during the Ebola outbreak.

Pakistan, he said, advocated a clear distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement."The fundamental principles of peacekeeping must remain sacrosanct: The edifice of peacekeeping is built on these principles."

"It is also our privilege to share our experiences in the field of peacekeeping with member states," the prime minister said. Pakistan had institutionalised a formal peacekeeping training regime in sync with UN training objectives, and would continue to offer to the UN its Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) for the conduct of regular peacekeeping courses, workshops and seminars.