Pakistan Army Green Book 2018 – Y Category
The standard peacekeeping model of intrusive international diplomacy emerged after the creation of the UN in the post-World War II era. A typical peacekeeping force is composed of soldiers and policemen belonging to a group of nations willing to contribute troops and funds for a peacekeeping mission. Over the years the peacekeeping architecture has evolved and taken new shapes within and outside the mandate of the UN. Quite understandably, major powers have been the prime movers behind international peacekeeping activity in terms of selecting conflict zones for deploying UN peacekeeping forces and providing resources e.g. the US actually put together the UN forces deployed in the Korean peninsula in 1950. US also dominates the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led stabilization missions in Kosovo Force (KFOR) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Russia is heading a four nation Joint Control Commission (JCC) for Georgian – Ossetian Conflict Resolution in South Ossetia. In South Asia, India carried out a failed peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, within the framework of a bilateral agreement.
The latest trend is the en bloc participation by regional organizations in peacekeeping missions such as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU). This trend hasn’t caught up in South Asia because of political tensions despite the fact that South Asian countries are among the largest troop contributing countries (TCC) to UN peacekeeping operations.
This paper posits that the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) more formally known as Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Alliance (IMCTC) provide a new model of an Islamic peacekeeping force. The member countries have some very well trained and well equipped troops and are ideally configured to operate together on not only counter terrorism operations but also peacekeeping duties. This force also has capacity to bridge the Sunni – Shia divide by operating together as a cohesive force with the mandate of serving humanity irrespective of religion, caste or creed.
Keywords: Peacekeeping, Islamic Military Alliance
During the past seventy years peacekeeping has emerged as an important tool in the international crisis management toolkit. This instrument is often used, when a conflict spirals out of control and all efforts at reconciliation fail. Sometimes, it is the last ditch effort to maintain peace and stability in a conflict zone. Ever since 1948, the UN has sent out 71 peacekeeping missions in international trouble spots. Currently sixteen peacekeeping operations are deployed around the globe. Assembling a peacekeeping force and putting it in place needs time, effort, money and political will. Since the UN does not have an army of its own, so it has to rely heavily on troop and financial contributions from member countries. The consensus of warring parties is also required before deploying a peacekeeping mission. It is also important that parties to the conflict do not object to troops from a certain nation participating in peacekeeping operations in their area.
The shape of peacekeeping has witnessed evolutionary changes. From peacekeeping, it has moved on to peace enforcement; and post conflict rehabilitation and stabilization are all part of peacekeeping now. The emphasis is now increasingly on the protection of civilians (POC). Intervention brigades have been deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2013, and great powers are toying with the idea of unilateral intervention under the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
The scope of peacekeeping has its limits because the permanent members of the UN have their own priorities in managing a conflict. If the national interests of the veto wielding members do not coincide, there is no likelihood of a peacekeeping mission materializing. Peacekeeping missions have had mixed results. They have succeeded in places and failed in others e.g. the long standing presence of UN forces in Kashmir and Palestine has not helped in resolving the long outstanding conflicts. Yet one cannot deny the fact that peacekeeping has its utility and has indeed brought under control certain explosive situations.
Models of UN Forces
The first architecture of a UN military force emerged during the Korean War. This force was put together in 1950 on the behest of the US to defend their ally South Korea/Republic of Korea (ROK) from the forces of North Korea/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) supported by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The UN Command (UNC) was actually commanding troops in battle. This force was not designed for typical peacekeeping duties such as policing or maintaining peace. The genesis of this force was in many way linked to the US policy of containment. The US had feared that a communist victory in Korea would upset the emerging world order in the favour of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Interestingly neither ROK nor the PRC, the state party supporting North Korea were at that time in history, members of the UN. The USSR, which was a permanent member had abstained from voting on the issue of sending a UN force to Korea. Thus expressing its annoyance at not having been able to stop the UN military expedition to Korea.
The US had the largest military presence in the UN Force in Korea. At one stage there were 140,000 US soldiers. Australia, Great Britain, Canada, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Colombia, Ethiopia, South Africa, New Zealand, Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Philippines and Luxembourg had sent fighting units; while Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Italy contributed military hospitals and field ambulances. Pakistan had declined to provide troops for the Korean War, since it had more pressing security concerns at home. Ever since the armistice of 1953, there has been recourse to war but the UN Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) is still present on ground. The monitoring of the heavily militarized 38th Parallel is performed by the Neutral Nation Supervisory Commission.
Ever since the Korean War, US prefers to maintain a separate presence in peacekeeping operations e.g. it provided troops to the peacekeeping operation to Somalia in the 1990s but remained outside the UN mandate and the American troops did not don the blue helmets. Their connection with the peacekeeping contingent was through their commander Major General Thomas Montgomery, who was also the deputy force commander of the UN forces. The US has led the NATO force in stabilization operations in places such as Kosovo and Afghanistan. In Kosovo it forms part of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and in Afghanistan, it heads the International Stabilization Force (ISAF). KFOR was established under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) and the Military-Technical Agreement between NATO, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.  ISAF was established in August 2003 under the UN mandate. Its primary objective is to enable the Afghan government to provide effective security across the country and develop new Afghan security forces to ensure Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorists.
Russia has also used their clout as a resurgent power to do some peacekeeping of its own. It has established a four country Joint Control Commission (JCC) for Georgian – Ossetian Conflict Resolution in South Ossetia. For some time the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was also involved in peaceful resolution of the Georgian – Ossetian conflict but has since closed shop and moved out of the area.
A notorious example of the ‘do it alone model’ is the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) that was deployed in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. This was the result of a bilateral accord between the governments of Sri Lanka and India. Sri Lanka being a much smaller state didn’t have much of a choice and had to allow the Indian troops into their country in the garb of peacekeepers. The Indian military gave it the codename Operation Pawan. This operation was in contravention to long standing peacekeeping principles of impartially, consent by parties to the conflict, use of minimum force, and the UN mandate. The IPKF became party to the fighting and resorted to the use of excessive force. The operation resulted in a massive failure and the Indian peacekeepers had to withdraw in disgrace.
The traditional model of peacekeeping takes place, when a majority of the UN member states are on board. Most importantly this happens, when the permanent members are on one page. Unless the UN Security Council sanctions a peacekeeping mission there is no likelihood of it seeing the light of the day. Another important factor in this regard is that the purse strings of the countries financing the mission dictate the tone and tenor of a peacekeeping mission. A new trend to note here is that a number of regional blocs have turned to peacekeeping duties as a means to leverage influence in their own areas of interest. Noteworthy in this regard are the contributions of the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) in peacekeeping missions in trouble spots of Africa. African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) was created by the AU Peace and Security Council in 2007 and operates under the UN mandate. European Union (EU) has been cooperating with the UN as a bloc in peacekeeping operations. Five years ago, the EU launched its first five missions under its new Common Security and Defence Policy (CDSP) unveiled in 2012 as part of the “Plan of Action to enhance EU CDSP support to UN Peacekeeping.” These new deployments, like the previous ones are in South Sudan, the Sahel, Libya, and Somalia. These are operating in parallel to the UN peacekeeping operations and effectively complement each other. Lately, however, it has been witnessed that the EU missions are becoming more autonomous. This does not justify, what critics believe are dwindling numbers of peacekeepers from European countries. It is estimated that at the moment over 70 per cent contribution comes from African and South Asian countries. For many years now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are among the largest troop contributing countries (TCC) in the world. These countries, bitter rivals at home, have often teamed up with each other on various peacekeeping missions. However, owing to the prevailing mistrust the idea of a SAARC peacekeeping brigade has failed to strike roots in the South Asian political landscape and the possibility of SAARC operating as a peacekeeping unit remains an elusive pipedream.
The Islamic Peacekeeping Force
Sadly, many Muslim countries today qualify as international trouble spots. Arguably Syria tops the list. Followed by a number of countries such as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are places in dire need of credible peacekeeping forces that can impartially deal with all parties of the conflict and bring about a semblance of peace. Syria has in fact become an explosive cocktail in which a number of international actors, in active consort of their local partners that includes the regime in Damascus and hosts of non-state actors, are slugging it out in population centres, killing innocent civilians caught in the cross fire of opposing forces. The UN did send in an observer group to Syria but it were quickly withdrawn. A number of countries including Russia, the US, the UK, France, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are providing direct military and logical support in their fight against disparate groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and various militant factions such as the al Jabha tul Nusra and the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Russia is conducting direct air raids and Iranian are not only firing missiles against the armed opposition inside Syria but are also volunteers to fight on ground alongside the government forces. Under the circumstances there is an urgent need for an impartial military force that can set apart all hostile forces and enforce a ceasefire, in order to create an environment that is conducive for a return to normality in this war ravaged country. For argument sake such a task can ideally be performed by an Islamic peacekeeping force.
An Islamic force has only recently come into being. The announcement regarding the creation of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) or simply the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) was made in Saudi Arabia in December 2015. Former Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was made its commander in chief. The coalition is now being called the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Alliance (IMCTC). The initial membership of this alliance was 34 countries. It included prominent Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Gulf Arab and sundry African states. It is headquartered in Riyadh and its aim was to coordinate efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. Its proclaimed duty is to:
[P]rotect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organisations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorise the innocent. 
Over the past two years, the number of IMA members has increased to 41. Very soon after its formation doubts were raised about its status. Many critics alleged that this was a divisive force meant to widen the gulf between the Sunnis and the Shias and that its sole purpose was to isolate Iran. This notion gained strength after the visit of President Trump to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in May 2017, when he called upon the leaders of the Arab and Islamic world to fight against Iran. One reason for the spat that followed between Saudi Arabia and Qatar was because of latter’s alleged close links with Iran. This naturally does not auger well for the Islamic polity and lays bare the fissures within the so-called Ummah or the Islamic nation. The efforts at Islamic unity have declined over the years. Once hailed as a platform to protect the interests of Muslim countries, the Organization of Islamic Conference/Cooperation (OIC) shone at its brightest during the Islamic summit held in Lahore in 1974. Unfortunately it has by now become a moribund entity and is often ridiculed for its inaction. Under the circumstances it would be a good idea to energize the IMA to become a unifying force for the Muslims. It has all the ingredients to provide an ideal platform to forge Islamic unity. The grouping has one of the best fighting forces in the world and together they possess top of the line military equipment that any military alliance can boast of. Some Islamic countries like Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan also have defence industries of their own, so together they stand a chance of surviving military sanctions. If the charter of the IMA, which has been dubbed as the Muslim NATO can be expanded to include peacekeeping it can became a non-controversial force and can be called in to provide relief to Muslim countries ravaged by war. If all Muslim countries including Iran become part of this force, it can provide a balanced group that would be acceptable to all warring factions. A system of checks and balances within its hierarchy can ensure that its impartiality remains unblemished and that it can provide succour to Muslim world transcending the sectarian that currently divides it.
Currently very little is known about the shape, size and the mandate of the IMA. In most alliance systems, member states are not required to give up their national armies to form one single armed force. Most probably, this will also be the case with IMA. Nation states will continue to exercise sovereign rights over their national armies to address their national threat perceptions. However, most military alliance have common defence clauses inserted in their charters. These can be triggered to address a common challenge. In case of IMA, terrorism has been identified as the common threat. Examples of common defence articles is available in modern alliance system e.g. Article 5 forms the corner stone of collective defence within NATO’s founding treaty. It binds the member states in a commitment “to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.” President Trump has indicated that he would like to wriggle out of this obligation but if he does it may signal the end of NATO. Pakistan was at the receiving end of a common defence commitment between India and the Soviet Union. Article 9 of the infamous Indian Soviet 20 year Treaty on Peace, Friendship and Cooperation signed in 1971 made it incumbent on the two signatory states to come to the help of each other if either was attacked. This suited India’s interests well during the 1971 war with Pakistan. Now that India has become a major defence partner of the US, this unholy alliance has been erased from public memory. The Soviet Union had also made joint defence the core of the defunct Warsaw Pact that it led during the Cold War to deter NATO.
The common defence clause has translated into operational plans. It is not yet certain, how this will happen within the framework of the IMA. There are a number of questions that need to be addressed e.g. how will the member states contribute towards this common cause in terms of troops and money? Whether each member state will have a standby force ready for deployment or whether a select group will be assembled at short notice? Which countries will provide the launch pads? How will troops be transported to the operational area? Details about logistics? These are fundamental issues that the policy planners in IMA headquarters would be grappling with right now.
If terrorism remains at the heart of IMA, it can most likely be patterned on Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO). The express purpose of the SCO is counter terrorism (CT). The Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO. The permanent body of the SCO RATS based in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Their tasks and duties cover six points including policy planning, intelligence sharing and training.Training is a regular feature on the SCO CT calendar.Regular CT drills are held involving the members of the SCO. Both Pakistan and India were admitted as full members of this organization just this year. There are essential differences between CT and peacekeeping operations. Smaller units (platoon/company level) are involved CT operations. The CT troops are not meant to hold ground. They can be inserted from the air by helicopters and are moved out as soon as the miscreants on ground have been accounted for. Their tactics resemble those of Special Forces. Their success is heavily dependent on accurate and timely information. Terror groups are also tacked remotely through drone strikes. These are the patterns visible during the exercises that are held to hone CT skills.
Peacekeeping differs from CT in many ways. Peacekeeping can take place without political and diplomatic effort. It requires diplomatic skill and patience to convince those wielding influence in the conflict zones to allow peacekeeping operations to take place on their territory. Next is the issue to assemble a potent peacekeeping force through willing partners. The deployment of peacekeeping troops is heavy on logistics and needs elaborate funding for long term sustenance. A peacekeeping force is multi-dimensional. The leadership is provided by international civil servants with extensive diplomatic experience. The military leadership is subservient to the civilian hierarchy, which in turn reports to headquarters located outside the conflict zone. Peacekeepers belong to different nations and may have different training and professional standards. It takes time before they can start operating as a single unit. Peacekeeping often needs experts from policy side, judiciary and election officials. Peacekeeping in many cases transforms into peacebuilding. The post conflict rehabilitation is even more extensive and long term because it means rebuilding administrative structures. The new governance architecture has to suit the genius of the local populace and should not be in conflict with those returning to re-occupy their home and hearth. Peacekeeping is based on the basic principle of winning hearts and minds. Healing touch is of essence in peacekeeping operations. The latest trends in peacekeeping includes gender balancing. Complete female formed police units now form part of peacekeeping operations. Gender does not figure in CT operations. These are shadowy operations; surgical and short term in nature in comparison with peacekeeping operations. The latter are transparent, elaborate and extensive in nature. Peacekeeping operations are done under the media glare, while CT strikes may never be revealed because of their covert nature.
On the flipside there are a number of advantages in having an Islamic peacekeeping force. There is no doubt that it will enhance the influence of the Islamic countries as a bloc at the international forums. Logically, the world at large may actually heave a sigh of relief on seeing the Islamic countries finally waking up to their international obligations, particularly, where Muslim countries are involved. The Islamic countries experiencing turmoil may have greater acceptance for peacekeepers in their midst that profess the same faith. They may also have cultural affinities and sensitivities that are non-existent in peacekeepers from Europe and other non-Muslim countries. One can argue that some Islamic countries may object on sectarian or political grounds but then the composition of the force can be altered to suit the reservations of the warring parties. This is standard practice in international peacekeeping operations to configure the peacekeeping troops in order to obtain consensus of the parties to the conflict. Presently the Islamic world is not visible on the radar as a group and peacekeeping can provide an ideal toehold to gain traction and influence in an increasingly fractious world that may not readily provide them space at the leadership level. Actually, peacekeeping is not only about conflict resolution it also about political interests. This is the reason that major countries only allow peacekeeping operations in areas of their interest. Former imperial powers are generally keen to intervene in their previous colonies. Such propensities can be countered by having an Islamic peacekeeping force that is willing to serve humanity beyond political considerations, particularly where Muslim countries are involved.
Pakistan has extensive peacekeeping experience and is ideally suited to train an Islamic peacekeeping force. Ever since, 2013 the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) in the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad is already training peacekeepers from many countries, including those belonging to Muslim countries. Its efforts can of course be complemented by similar peacekeeping training institutes in other Muslim countries such as those in Bangladesh and Malaysia. A political advisory body of IMA can suggest trouble spots, where a peacekeeping force can be sent. Of course the Muslim nations will need consensus on its political mandate. Once it achieves recognition on the international forums as a credible force that works professionally and in accordance with the existing norms of peacekeeping, it has the potential of becoming a world class peacekeeping force that can be called in time of need by the UN or the OIC.
For more than one reason the IMA leadership and staff would find peacekeeping more complex in nature, and troops and logistic intensive. However, the leadership of the IMA under the former Pakistani military chief can bank on his country to provide the necessary experience and expertise in this field. Under him there is all the reason that Pakistan can place all its peacekeeping skills to create and maintain a world class peacekeeping force.
Peacekeeping operations have undergoing a change. Regional blocs are becoming more dominant in this field. The foreign policy of the US under President Trump is still vague but things will become clear as things go by. The US is viewed by many as a retreating power. Trump on the campaign trial emphasised on reducing his country’s global imprint and focus on domestic issues but he is already considering increasing force levels in Afghanistan. An increase in numbers to 5000 may not change the ground situation but it may please his generals in the short term. As the biggest financier of the UN, any decline in global power of the US and its international prestige would also impact on the UN peacekeeping operations. Although one doesn’t see the disappearance of the UN peacekeeping forces all of a sudden but it is quite a distinct possibility that there may be a decline in such operations. Pakistan on an average has about 7000 troops on UN peacekeeping operations annually. Pakistan also uses UN peacekeeping operations as an effective foreign policy tool to derive leverage at the international level. It is time that we should start thinking of alternatives to the UN peacekeeping forces. Pakistan has more than half a century of peacekeeping experience under its belt. It has provided senior leadership both civilian and military to peacekeeping operations. It has world class training institute in the form of CIPS. It is time Pakistan put its peacekeeping skills to good use and press for an Islamic peacekeeping force. With the leadership of the IMA in Pakistani hands, it is time that we push the agenda of forging the future of this Alliance as an impartial force that can render good services to not only the Muslim world but also to other nations or parties that could look up to it for help and support.
In case peacekeeping has to be made an integral part of the IMA charter than it needs serious debate and discussion and everybody should be taken on board. The idea of IMA itself was met with a lot of scepticism and it has still to find resonance among Muslim countries and populations. For looking into the future about this alliance system as a possible forum for peacekeeping particularly within Muslim countries needs vision and imagination. Grounds have to be prepared for greater acceptability. This is easier said than done. First and foremost, leading Islamic countries should make this their foreign policy agenda. The issue can be raised at the forum of the OIC and the UN can be probed to find favourable reception about this idea. Only, if the Muslim countries finds this a good notion, one which can provide much needed unity among its ranks. Even then it would require a lot of groundwork before this idea can mature. At the moment this may appear to be very far-fetched and outlandish but I’m convinced that it has the germs of success.
I propose a multi-pronged strategy. First of all Government of Pakistan should take up the issue of an Islamic peacekeeping force with likeminded countries. Currently the Islamic world is hopelessly divided on sectarian and ideological lines. There is little commonality in national and Islamic agendas. It is most unfortunate that most people now consider Islam as a contentious ideology not in sync with modern times. It is not uncommon for Islamic countries to identify themselves on sectarian lines. There is a need to create awareness about the gaping fault lines within the Islamic nation and the need to build bridges to cover these gaping chasms. It should be the endeavour of those, who believe in the unity of the Islamic nation to establish some ground rules in this regard. After having created a favourable environment, a list of non-controversial initiatives such as peacekeeping should be identified. There is no gainsaying that the peacekeeping formula should be clubbed together with other issues that would find greater acceptance within the Islamic world. The next step would be to launch a diplomatic campaign to bring this issue of Islamic peacekeeping and other issues of mutual interest and benefit to fruition. Painstaking homework and good diplomacy would be necessary to work towards this common goal. To make this issue a permanent feature of the Islamic global agenda, it should be included in the nascent charter of IMA with clarity and unambiguity. The mandate of the IMA should be transparent and should be based on the core interest of unifying the Islamic world. Islamic peacekeeping should find a place for itself within this overarching framework of Islamic brotherhood and unity. All ideas that in any way can lead to further disunity should be discarded from the outset. I’ve full faith and confidence that if the ethos of the IMA is developed on the basis of harmony and with the intent of solving the problems of the Muslim world, it can become an important tool in conflict resolution and building unity within the ranks of the Muslim world.
The world is changing at a phenomenal pace and the Islamic world needs to set its sight correctly to confront an international milieu that views Islam and its adherents as sponsors and abettors of what they perceive as terrorism. IMA has an opportunity to correct this perception and build the Islamic world into a powerful bloc that can solve its own problems. This time is now!
*The author is a retired brigadier. He is currently Associate Dean Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad.
 Details about “Current Peacekeeping Operations” are available at http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping /operations/current.shtml.
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