HAVALDAR Babar Siddique
HAVALDAR Babar Siddique

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani soldier, part of the UN peacekeeping mission, embraced martyrdom in a militant attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a press release issued by Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Saturday.

On Friday, six armed assailants from Banyamulenge Armed Group approached the Permanent Operation Base (POB) in the Minembwe area of South Kivu province to surrender as part of the UN’s initiative.

However, they opened fire and during the ensuing gunbattle, Havaldar Babar Siddique, who was stationed at the gate, was shot at. He was evacuated to a nearby medical camp but he could not survive.

According to the ISPR, the martyred soldier was a resident of Shakargarh. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Pakistan has always played a pivotal role as a responsible member of the international community to help realise ideals of global peace and security through active support in various UN peacekeeping missions, the statement added.

“Our peacekeepers have always distinguished themselves in executing challenging peacekeeping tasks in conflict-torn areas through devotion and, if necessary, rendering supreme sacrifices.”

So far, 171 Pakistani peacekeepers have laid down their lives during various UN missions. According to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Pakistan is the largest military contributor to MONUSCO — the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — with 1974 personnel.

MONUSCO has called on Congolese authorities to arrest the perpetrators as attacks against peacekeepers may constitute a war crime, according to AFP.

The attack comes after deadly anti-UN protests shook eastern DRC in July.

Thirty-two demonstrators and four UN troops died over the course of the week-long unrest and UN bases were ransacked, according to Congolese authorities.

The UN first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999. It later became MONUSCO in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations. It currently has about 16,000 uniformed personnel, according to AFP.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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