UNITED NATIONS - Three Pakistan Army personnel were among the 132 United Nations peacekeepers from around the world who were honoured posthumously on Friday at a special ceremony marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The three Pakistani peacekeepers are: Major Ahmar Raza, who lost his life serving the United Nations Operation in Cote dIvoire; Havaldar Sher Afzal Khan from the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Naik Syed Abdul Qadir Shah from the UNMIL. The Military Attache at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, Col Hammad Dogar, received the Dag Hammarskold Medial on behalf of the families of the awardees from UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy at a simple ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. Pakistans UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon was among a number of envoys from troop contributing countries present at the ceremony. At the outset, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tributes to the fallen soldiers. Addressing himself to their family members, Ban said, Your loved ones gave their lives for peace, human rights, justice and social progress. We mourn their loss. We cherish their good deeds. And they will always live on as an inspiration to us as we continue their noble mission. Pakistan is the largest contributor of military and police personnel to the United Nations with more than 10,600 peacekeepers serving around the world - in Burundi, Chad, Cote dIvoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste and the Western Sahara. Bangladesh, with 9,220 peacekeepers, is the second highest contributor, followed by India (8,617), Nigeria (5,792) and Nepal (3,856). Not only at UN Headquarters in New York, the day was also be observed at peacekeeping missions and offices around the world, with a special focus on women peacekeepers, as the United Nations tries to move towards gender equity in its ranks. This years commemorative ceremonies come at a time when the services of United Nations peacekeepers are in greater demand than ever, Le Roy, the under-secretary-general said. There are currently more than 113,000 peacekeepers, including 90,000 military and police personnel from 117 countries, serving in 18 operations on four continents. The secretary-general also oversaw a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the 132 peacekeeping personnel, 10 of them women, who lost their lives -whether through attacks, illnesses or accidents - in 2008 in the service of peace. In a separate ceremony, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy will award medals at Headquarters to the military and police officers currently serving in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Secy-Gen said: There are still far too few women peacekeepers. With women joining national militaries and police in greater numbers, it is critical that Member States contribute even more female personnel to the UN. On this International Day, let us draw on the power of women to strengthen UN peacekeeping while helping women and girls themselves to transform their destinies - and societies - for the better. However, women make up only 8 per cent of the United Nations police and 2 per cent of its military personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations has urged troop and police-contributing countries to deploy more women. India answered the call in 2007 with the deployment of a 125-member all-female police contingent to Liberia. The United Nations is also working to increase the number of women in senior positions at Headquarters and in field missions. Le Roy said, We have done a lot but we need to do a great deal more. Peacekeeping has become more multifaceted. We assist in providing security, reforming State institutions and supporting political transitions. Our women peacekeepers make a critical contribution in all of these areas and their work encourages others to participate in local peace processes.