NEW YORK - Shahzadi Gulfam, a police officer from Lahore, became a star at a Pakistani event after UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon singled her out for praise for her dedicated service to the United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world.
"Ms Gulfam is an excellent example of Pakistan’s spirit of service – and she is a true global citizen," the UN chief told a large gathering at an exhibition of photographs celebrating more than 50 years of Pakistan's participation in UN peacekeeping operations. Ban hoped that many people will be inspired by the spirit of Gulfam, the winner of the 2011 International Female Police Peacekeeper Award.
Gulfam, who travelled to New York for the exhibition sponsored by Pakistan Mission here, thanked the secretary-General, saying, "I love UN."
"Working as peacekeeper made me realize that human suffering has no language, no caste and creed. It can be felt across the human hearts and minds even if they do not speak the same language or share the same religion. This experienced helped me immensely in my national duties as well," she said. Gulfam is currently serving as a deputy superintendent of police in Lahore.
In his speech, the secretary-general also paid tribute to Pakistani peacekeepers for their service under the UN flag in hot spots around the world, saying they had made "remarkable contribution" in maintaining peace coupled with helping families and communities suffering from war.
"I have personally met brave Pakistani men and women who serve proudly in some of our toughest missions around the world. They are truly an inspiration," he said.
The photographs depict Pakistani soldiers and civilian administrators at work-- building peace and bringing development in conflict zones.
"This wonderful exhibition reminds us that peacekeeping is more than mandates and missions – it is our collective promise to help families and communities suffering from war," Ban said.
"This is what our nearly 94,000 uniformed peacekeepers do each day in 15 different missions on four continents," the secretary-general said.
"The world has great faith in these blue helmets. Countries are entrusting us with more and more challenging tasks. That is why we need highly trained and well-equipped personnel. We need more men – and especially more women – who can bravely go into dangerous situations to bring relief to civilians." Since its first deployment to Congo a half century ago, he said, Pakistan had sent troops to 33 missions.
The secretary general said: “Today almost 9,000 Pakistani uniformed personnel serve in six missions. The United Nations is deeply grateful for their contributions. Pakistan’s historic commitment to peacekeeping has taken a heavy toll. One hundred and thirty-two Pakistanis have lost their lives while serving the UN. We owe them a great debt of gratitude."
Pakistan UN Ambassador Masood khan told the guests that ‘Pakistani peacekeepers are serving in seven missions – in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Darfur, East Timor, Haiti, and Western Sahara.