New York

25 April 2011

Secretary-General's remarks to the Opening of an Exhibition of Photographs Celebrating 50 Years of Pakistan's Participation in Peacekeeping

Your Excellency, Ambassador [Abdullah Hussain] Haroon,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be here at this exhibition, which brings Pakistan's peacekeeping contribution to life.

The United Nations has 100,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world. One in ten is Pakistani. To put this another way, Pakistan is just one of the UN's 192 Member States ? but it is deploying a tenth of our peacekeeping personnel.

The first Pakistani peacekeeper served in the Congo fifty years ago. Pakistan's contribution has been consistent ever since. Pakistanis have served in 38 missions worldwide. They are involved now in nine of our most dangerous operations, with large contingents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia.

The numbers tell only part of the story. The other part is played out in the lives of people recovering from war. Women who are treated by female members of Pakistan's medical unit. Children who play football on fields constructed by Pakistani troops. Civilians who are able to live in peace thanks to the stabilizing presence of these brave Pakistanis.

These photographs beautifully capture the dedication of Pakistan's troops ? police ? and civilian personnel. We see the pride on their faces. And we see the many ways they help people recovering from war.

I have watched them in action. I am profoundly grateful for their service.

When I think back in my own mind's eye on the Pakistani forces I have seen keeping peace in faraway places ? when I see these images ? I recall the words of the great Pakistani philosopher and poet Allama Iqbal.

He wrote:

Build with your handful of dust,

a body stronger than a rock fortress,

and within this body, let there be a heart that feels sorrow,

like a stream flowing by a mountain.

I see that same blend of strength and compassion in the images here today ? and in the eyes of your forces dedicated not only to keeping the peace, but to keeping alive the values and the goals of the United Nations all over the world.

We know that this great contribution comes at a great cost. Tragically, 122 Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while proudly serving the United Nations. They are sons and daughters of Pakistan ? but they are also members of the United Nations family. We mourn their deaths. We remember their lives. And we vow to carry forward their valiant work for peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ambassador Haroon,

Mr. Ambassador, you have pointed out that peacekeeping is a credit to the United Nations. You said, “As much as the UN's unique role brings acceptance to its peacekeeping activity, the success of peacekeeping operations has, in turn, brought credibility to the world body.”

I completely agree. And I would add: peacekeeping is a credit to us thanks to the fine work of our troop-contributing countries –Pakistan a leader among them.

So please accept my deepest gratitude ? and warmest congratulations ? on this golden anniversary of Pakistan's contribution to peacekeeping.

Thank you.