Despite fighting against each other in South Asia, India and Pakistan have joined hands at international level to maintain peace in different parts of the world.
In its latest report, the UN has mentioned that the two South Asian arch rivals contributed thousands of soldiers to UN peace operations in war-ravaged countries. As per the report, money and troops come from very different sources for UN peacekeeping. Although major funding for UN peacekeeping activities comes from the developed world, the industrialised economies don’t provide the required manpower for such exercises.
As far as funding contribution is concerned, most of the funds in 2013-15 came from developed countries. While the US contributed 28.4% of the total funds, France contributed 7.2%, Germany and England 6.7% and China 6.6%.
Developing or poorer countries were top providers of troops. Personnel, deployed as part of peacekeeping forces, often belong to developing countries, like India and Pakistan. While Ethiopia contributed the highest number of peacekeeping troops and ground experts – 8,321 or 8% – in 2013-15, India contributed 7,696 personnel (7.4%), Pakistan 7,298 (7%), Bangladesh 7,051 (6.8%), Rwanda 6,141 (5.9%) and Nepal contributed 5,084 personnel (4.9%).
As India has deployed 3,670 personnel in DR Congo, 2,336 in South Sudan, 898 in Lebanon, 445 in Haiti and 191 in Israel and Syria, neighbouring Pakistan has sent 3,491 soldiers to DR Congo, 2,288 to Sudan, 1,132 to Central African Republic and 140 each to Liberia and Haiti.
Foreign policy and defence experts are of the opinion that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are all big contributors to UN missions, but there is more to it than just international goodwill. All the South Asian countries have some very specific reasons, apart from ‘doing the right thing’ for sending troops abroad on UN missions. They don’t consider the nature and needs of the host country before sending troops, as their move is aimed at enjoying benefits from their contributions to peace missions.
For India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, peacekeeping is one of the inexpensive ways to maintain large Armies and boost the pay of select troops. It also helps the three South Asian neighbours build diplomatic inroads in poorer countries that might be rich in resources. A senior UN official explained that India, with a billion people and nearly 10% annual GDP growth, is most in need of resources that Congo has in abundance. The African nation mines many rare minerals, like copper, tin, coltan and uranium. And a large proportion of Congo’s mineral output ends up in Chinese refineries, as the Asian giant processes the raw ore and exports it to the world’s advanced economies.
In the modern world, everything that is truly of value, including peace, is sellable.