Book Launch on “UN Peace Keeping Operations in Somalia 1992-1995: A Pakistani Perspective”

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Book Launch
UN Peace Keeping Operations in Somalia 1992-1995: A Pakistani Perspective
Book by Dr Tughral Yamin
April 10, 2019

Remarks of the Director General

Lt Gen (rtd) Talat Masood,

Dr Arshi Saleem Hashmi,

Brig (Rtd) Kamal Aziz,

Author of the book, Dr Tughral Yamin,

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG,

Worthy Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I extend you all, a warm welcome to the Institute of Strategic Studies.

We are gathered here today to launch a book by Dr Tughral Yamin: “UN Peace Keeping Operations in Somalia 1992-1995: A Pakistani Perspective

Some years ago, I watched a movie Blackhawk down. In the entire movie I did not hear much about what Pakistanis had done to keep peace in Somalia. This was not what I had read about this mission. The movie is of course a work of fiction, still I felt that facts must remain facts. I am glad that there are Pakistanis like Dr Tughral Yamin, who stepped up to tell the Pakistani story of how events unfolded in Somalia at that time. The book also illustrates how committed Pakistan is to making its own contribution to maintaining international peace and security.

Congratulations Dr Tughral for doing what must be done.

I have spent over six years in New York and have seen first-hand how well Pakistan is recognized at the world stage for always contributing most professional soldiers and officers. Our armed forces make us proud by displaying for the whole world to see that our troops are capable of handling extremely dangerous situations at home and abroad.

The people of Somalia have suffered for decades from a fratricidal civil war. The country has been a battleground for proxy wars by major and regional powers. This book tells the tale of bravery and accomplishments of Pakistan peacekeepers who overcame all odds to keep peace under war-ravaged conditions. The book might well be the first attempt to articulate a Pakistani perspective of the herculean task of keeping peace in Somalia during the turbulent years of 1992-95.

The writing of the book must have involved a painstaking process of gathering primary source data. One such primary source is sitting with us on the panel today. Brig Kamal Aziz. The other day, when he met me on the golf course, he told me how closely involved was he in that peacekeeping mission. We are very keen to listen to him when he reviews the book.

We are also happy that General Talat Masood and Dr Arshi Hashmi have also joined us today for this book launch and we look forward to hearing their review of the book.

As for the contents of the book, I must say Dr Tughral Yamin has worked hard in describing the geostrategic environment prevailing at that time in that region which is at the cusp of strategic waterways transporting global energy supplies. He then describes the tactical operational situation on ground to enable us to better understand the challenges involved in keeping peace in Somalia.

An important contribution of this book is that it exposes certain myths and sets the record straight about Pakistani role in rescuing besieged US troops in Mogadishu. As opposed to the Hollywood narrative in the movie “Black Hawk Down” that I referred to earlier, the fact is that without Pakistani rescue US troops faced a certain massacre at the hands of besieging Somali militia loyal to General Farah Aidid. Moreover, the events surrounding the ambush of Pakistani troops on 5th June 1993 that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers and injured 57 are also covered in great detail, something one cannot find in the Western narrative.

This book is a great tribute to the memory of all those Pakistan peacekeepers who lost their life in the Somalian mission. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

The book also describes in detail that it was not just US military that is indebted to Pakistan but also India, Belgium, Bangladeshi and Canadian troops, who without Pakistani aerial back up would not have survived the deadly ambushes of Somalian militias.

Last but not the least, Dr Yamin explained the way Pakistani troops won the hearts and minds of local population as opposed to other Western peace keeping troops who were seen as hostile, and in some cases brutal.

I hope that this intellectual endeavor of Dr Tughral Yamin will encourage others in our academia to write about Pakistan’s role in other UN peacekeeping missions, such as in Congo and Balkans for example, where similar tales of bravery and compassion remain to be explored and told.

Thank you all once again for gracing this important event.  

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