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Indian peacekeepers involved in 3 cases of sexual exploitation: UN reports

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United Nations: A UN report says that Indians in its peacekeeping operations were involved three substantiated cases of sexual exploitation or abuse between 2010 and 2013.

During those four years, there was a total of 64 substantiated cases of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, according to the report released Friday. More than 100,000 uniformed personnel serve in UN peacekeeping operations.

For context, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which looked into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, however, noted in its report that largest contributors of troops to the UN like India had lower incidence of cases of abuse.

India, which currently has over 8,000 personnel in the peacekeeping operations, is one of the largest contributors to the UN.

The other largest contributors of uniformed personnel to the UN are Pakistan, which has more than 8,750 in UN operations and had four substantiated cases, and Bangladesh with over 9,000 personnel and two such cases.

“While many variables, including contingent size, could affect the numbers of substantiated allegations, it appears that the largest TCCs (troop contributing countries) do not have the highest number of substantiated allegations against their personnel,” the report said.

Britain, which has fewer than 300 personnel serving in UN operations, had one substantiated case. South Africa with 2,160 had the highest number of cases, nine. Uruguay with under 1,500 personnel had eight cases.

The UN Department of Field Services, which deals with the deployment of personnel in peacekeeping operations, said in response to the report, that given the huge number of troops deployed “it can easily be argued that such data would more appropriately point to individual failings than to the overall attitude of a member state’s military forces towards SEA (sexual exploitation and abuse).”

The report lacked specific information about the incidents, except for one case against Pakistani police personnel in Haiti involving the abduction and rape of a 13-year-old boy.

According to the report, besides outright violence and rape, many cases involved troops providing gifts to women and girls, exploiting their poverty. In some of the instances, the women were given food and supplies for babies and in others, gifts like jewelry, clothing and electronics.

One of the areas of concern in the report was the lack of action by many countries sending personnel to the UN operations when complaints of sexual abuse were made. It would appear that India has been cooperating with the UN when complaints arise and taking action as it was not listed among the nations that had not complied with its requests for reports on follow-up actions.

In an earlier case involving Indian peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008, India ordered 12 officers and 39 soldiers to undergo DNA tests to see if they had fathered children with local women. (IANS)

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China, Pakistan and Afghanistan Sign a Deal to Enhance Counter Terrorism

China has said it would help build roads and railways to connect it with Afghanistan.

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Pakistan, CHina, Afghanistan
Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Salahuddin Rabbani, center, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, first right, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, first left, shake hands after signing the agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul, Dec. 15, 2018. VOA

China, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a trilateral understanding Saturday to enhance counterterrorism security cooperation, and collectively reiterated their call for the Taliban insurgency to join Afghan peace talks.

The foreign ministers of the three countries met in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, for a second round of talks, where they put the understanding into effect and also pledged to jointly work for regional connectivity, as well as economic development.

Beijing initiated the platform and hosted the inaugural meeting last year with a mission to help ease tensions and suspicions that have long plagued Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan. Critics say the tensions have hampered the effort to fight terrorism and promote regional peace, as well as economic connectivity.

 

Afghanistan, China, Pakistan
Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, shake hands at the end of a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Jan. 26, 2016. VOA

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a joint news conference after the meeting that his country will continue diplomatic efforts to help improve Kabul’s strained relations with Islamabad to further Beijing’s mission of regional peace and development.

 

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi noted terrorist entities — such as Islamic State (IS), the anti-China East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — threaten regional peace and could only be defeated through joint efforts.

Chinese officials worry that continued Afghan instability could encourage ETIM to foment problems in the western Xinjiang region, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We signed today an MoU [memorandum of understanding] on counterterrorism and security. This is a step forward and I think it will help us achieve what we collectively want to achieve,” Qureshi told reporters.

He emphasized that Pakistan is making efforts to promote a reconciliation process in Afghanistan, but he said it is up to Afghans themselves to decide how they want to achieve a political settlement to the war.

Pakistan, China
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi gestures during a briefing at foreign ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. VOA

Afghan officials allege that Pakistan allows Taliban leaders to hide in the neighboring country and direct their violent insurgency from there. Kabul accuses Islamabad of not upholding its commitments made in bilateral and multilateral forums to prevent the Taliban from using Pakistani soil.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, while addressing the news conference, called on Islamabad to play its “important role” to facilitate Kabul’s peace talks with the Taliban. He stopped short, though, of reiterating accusations that Pakistan is behind the deadly insurgency in his country.

“There are groups in the region who have been getting support and who have been involved in this violence in Afghanistan. We need to see countries in the region, particularly in this case Pakistan, to support this initiative of peace and reconciliation and support us in reducing this growing violence and ultimately eliminate the violence throughout Afghanistan,” Rabbani said.

But his remarks drew a strong reaction from the Pakistani foreign minister, who urged both sides to stop pointing fingers at each other.

Pakistan, China
Ahsan Iqbal (L), Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Development and Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan attend the launching ceremoney of CPEC long-term cooperation plan in Islamabad, Pakistan December 18, 2017. VOA

“We will have to be more positive. We will have to realize that by blaming each other we are going nowhere. We have spent decades, we have seen devastation, we have seen people killed and maimed on both sides of the border. Time has come to move on. Time has come to stop pointing fingers,” Qureshi lamented.

The Pakistani foreign minister said his delegation’s visit to Kabul and participation in the trilateral meeting are all aimed at building mutual political trust and facilitating the Afghan peace process.

The allegations and counter allegations at the news conference once again underscored a deeply mistrusted relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

China, a close ally of Pakistan, lately has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan. It has been actively using its influence to bring the two uneasy South Asian neighbors closer. Beijing also maintains contacts with the Taliban and repeatedly has urged the insurgents to engage in peace talks to seek a solution to their concerns.

The Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers on Saturday invited and encouraged the Afghan government to join their bilateral multi-billion-dollar infrastructure-building project that Beijing is carrying out in Pakistan as part of its global Belt and Road Initiative.

Imran Khan, Pakistan, China
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a ceremony in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA
Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has said it would help build roads and railways to connect it with Afghanistan. Qureshi urged his Afghan counterpart to send a delegation to Pakistan to examine projects in which they might want to take part.
Also Read: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Hold Meeting To Counter Trafficking of Opiate

He said the regional connectivity will be crucial for building war-ravaged Afghanistan. Pakistan also believes linking Afghanistan to CPEC would give it better access to trade with Central Asian markets.

Foreign Minister Rabbani said a third meeting of the trilateral dialogue will take place in Islamabad next year. (VOA)