Foreign Office says Islamabad is ‘immensely proud’ of the Pakistanis who were honored by the U.N. in recognition of their contributions
The United Nations on Wednesday honored 129 military, police, and civilian personnel from 44 countries, including two Pakistani peacekeepers, who lost their lives while participating in various global peacekeeping operations during 2020.
Conducted virtually due to the ongoing global pandemic, the ceremony was presided over by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and marked the annual International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers. The deceased personnel were posthumously honored with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, with Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Ambassador Munir Akram, accepting the award for the Pakistani peacekeepers on behalf of their families.
According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, Sepoy Muhammad Azhar Aziz was slain while serving with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Imtiaz Hussain had served in a civilian capacity for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.
“I feel deeply honored and proud on receiving these awards on behalf of two Pakistani peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of the United Nations during 2020,” Akram said at the ceremony. “Through their ultimate sacrifice, the late Imtiaz Hussain and Sepoy Azhar Aziz upheld the longstanding tradition of honor, courage, and dedication of Pakistani peacekeepers,” he added.
“Their singular contribution also manifests Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to international peace and stability. We salute these brave sons of Pakistan, and commit to keeping their legacy,” he stressed.
Pakistan is the sixth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions, with over 4,700 military and police personnel deployed in major flashpoints globally right now. According to the U.N., 157 Pakistani peacekeepers have been slain while serving the global body.
“We are immensely proud of and pay homage to the two Pakistan peacekeepers, Sepoy Muhammad Azhar Aziz and Imtiaz Hussain, who were honored posthumously by the U.N. in recognition of their contributions to U.N. Peacekeeping operations,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a posting on Twitter. “Flag of Pakistan has a proud history of contributing to U.N.’s endeavors for peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Flag of Pakistan troops and police have represented the U.N. in a number of peacekeeping missions across different parts of the world and continue to do so,” he added.
Addressing the medal ceremony, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke of the “immense” challenges and threats faced by U.N. peacekeepers, stressing that they worked under difficult conditions daily to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable groups. “Despite COVID-19, across all our missions, peacekeepers have not only been adapting to continue to deliver their core tasks, but they are also assisting national and community efforts to fight the virus,” he said.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping missions, and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives for the cause.