Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world. We believe in the principle of honesty and fair play in national and international dealings and are prepared to make our utmost contribution to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nations of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter."
– Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
UN peacekeeping missions involving Pakistan cover about 70 operations in different parts of the world. Pakistan joined the United Nations on September 30, 1947. It is also among the major troops contributing countries by virtue of its peacekeepers serving at UN Peacekeeping missions who are third-largest in number. Amongst all these operations, the operation at Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the oldest.
The mandate of MONUSCO at DRC is to progressively transfer the tasks of MONUSCO to the Congolese Government and the United Nations country team, so that the Mission can, "with favorable developments", leave the country according to "a plan of responsible withdrawal and sustainable".
Pakistan is given the Command of one of the three sectors – the Southern Sector. The units under command of Southern Sector are from Egypt, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Uruguay. Together these units, under the Command of Pakistan, are very effectively contributing to the peace mission in DRC.
The challenges Pakistani peacekeepers are confronted with in this phase of the mission are to prevent and combat sexual violence, to conduct new military operations in accordance with international law, and also to promote non-military approaches, protection of civilians and strengthening of State institutions.
Pakistani contingents took the task of progressively transferring MONUSCO’s responsibilities to the Congolese Government and the United Nations country team.
The Pakistani officers adopted a very systematic approach while dealing with the issues they strive to resolve. Below is a brief review of the training programmes undertaken by Pakistani Contingent for empowering the local population and dealing with protection of civilians.
“Many thanks for the great colleagues at Minembve with a note of gratitude for our Pakistani colleagues from the COB. Your work is much appreciated,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, on his visit to one of the units of Pakistani Contingent serving at DRC.
Training of Armed Forces of DR Congo. As a part of its mandate to favorably contribute to the development of Congolese Government, the Pakistani troops carry out regular training of the Congolese armed forces (FARD) and national police (PNC). The Congolese forces and LEAs are trained in operational readiness so they could independently deal with armed groups.
Resource Building in Management of Psychological Trauma. Support for Students Exposed to Trauma (SSET) is now a regular feature of empowering/training the local populace of DRC by officers of Pakistani Contingents. This structured approach is employed to reduce distress in young children resulting from exposure to violence. It includes a wide variety of skill-building techniques focusing on changing maladaptive thoughts and promoting positive behaviours for the management of trauma reactions among schoolchildren.
Resource Building through Language. For enabling the locals to communicate in English language, the Pakistani Contingents regularly conduct a basic English language course. This course empowers the locals to effectively communicate in any situation and develop this new skill to act as mentors for people in their community, especially women and children.
Health Awareness Programmes. In order to build an outreach medical facility by training locals to act as health visitors, a series of lectures and trainings are regularly delivered pertaining to ‘common health problems, diseases in the community and their prevention’. These trainings allow for greater reach in generating awareness about healthcare. The goal of these programmes is to train the lady health visitors who can subsequently educate women and children in the community on certain health matters.
Lectures on importance of hygiene/cleanliness, prevention of Ebola, child healthcare and importance of vaccination are regularly delivered. Moreover, awareness is also created on HIV/AIDS and its prevention.
Training on Cleaning Water. Although the DRC has Africa's largest freshwater resources, it is suffering from an acute drinking water supply crisis. The country has one of the lowest rates of access to clean and safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, training is regularly imparted to the local masses on how to clean water. Moreover, regular quick impact projects are also undertaken where schools are renovated and clean drinking water is provided to the children of the Southern Sector.
“Thank you so much for the excellent protection work done in Minembve. Pakistani Battalion is serving lives and making the mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo successful. Thank you for your hospitality and friendship,” were the words of François Grignon, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Protection and Operations in MONUSCO, during his recent visit to static combat deployments of Pakistani Battalions at Minembve, DRC.
In order to ensure protection of civilians, show presence of MONUSCO force in remote areas, maintain law and order situation and establish credible deterrence against armed groups, regular day and night patrols are carried out by Pakistani forces. These patrols have increased the trust of local populace in the Pakistani troops. Static combat deployments have also been established at several places which has significantly contributed towards improvement of protection of civilians. The safe environment has allowed schools, churches and health centers to be reopened in these areas, marking a significant progress in return to normal business.
MONUSCO’s Devotion to Enlightenment at Democratic Republic of Congo
The building of the school had miserably tumbled down. It was very challenging for us to attend our classes during rain and thunderstorm, which frequently led to closure of school. Now I do not have to worry about anything. I am greatly thankful to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Pakistani Contingent for giving life to my dreams,” says Nadine Habamungu, a student of fifth grade at Shanje Batumba Primary School Minova, which is renovated by Pakistani Battalion with the help of MONUSCO funding. Nadine has all the hopes of a bright and prosperous future in her big dark eyes, so simple yet so beautiful. She wants to be a teacher in the future so that she can educate her coming generations.
Shanje Batumba Primary School is the only school situated close to the village of Minova, in the South Kivu province of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Pakistani Battalion located in the area took up the task of renovating the school. It is just one fragment of an initiative to empower and strengthen the future of DRC by Pakistani peacekeepers, which is in the hands of these young schoolchildren.
Salama Nguda, the mathematics teacher at Shanje Batumba School was very happy at the renovation drive. The dedicated and committed Ms. Salama found a new ray of hope for her students. “Before renovation, I used to worry about the studies as the students had no roof or floor. The condition of the school was very bad. Often after reaching school we used to find out that the classes had been cancelled. But now it has been a month and we have not experienced closure due to bad weather conditions even for a single day,” says Salama Nguda.
The rehabilitation work has been completed in three months’ time by Pakistani peacekeepers. With a proper structure in place, rough weather does not cause the school to be terminated anymore, and children enjoy going to school. After the renovation the school environment has become much more conducive and has spawned an outstanding increase in enrolment. Pakistani peacekeepers are committed to support education. Their priority in transferring the United Nations mandate to the local population starts with rebuilding and rehabilitating the schools for the distressed nation, which is rising from the ashes of the conflict. There are many different initiatives to make education a priority for the Congolese nation.
Mr. Moungano Munazi, the village chief of Minova, reiterated that prosperous future of Congo lies in good education. He was delighted to see the students of his village going to school. At the same time, he requested to do the same for the neighboring villages as well.
While inaugurating the renovated school, Commander Southern Sector and a senior Pakistan Army officer, Brigadier General Kashif Abdullah emphasized that he can foresee a coming stage in DRC where the essence of learning is enriched in a way that makes this country more competitive, a stage where Congo is ready to embrace the challenges of the world and its national model of knowledge is at its best. He reiterated to bear in mind that schools house the future of the country and the hopes and dreams of parents.
The foremost aim of Pakistani peacekeepers is to do its best for the people of DRC so that they become capable of standing against all odds, challenges, and difficult turns they may face, in making Congo a great nation and be always outstanding to give their best to the country.
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