The Diplomat: Why South Asia Loves Peacekeeping


Categorie: Africa, Asia, Congo, David Axe, India, Pakistan, U.N. Peacekeeping |
Tags: , , ,

David Axe photo

David Axe photo.


DUNGU, Democratic Republic of Congo — A truck carrying Indian U.N. peacekeepers trundles along the red dirt roads of Luvungi, a small town in a remote part of eastern Congo, on a routine patrol in late summer. The town seems quiet, and seeing and hearing nothing unusual, the soldiers quickly pass through back to their company operating base in nearby Kibua.

But unknown to them, just out of sight and earshot, rebel gangs were systematically raping Luvungi’s residents. Over a horrific three-day period beginning July 30, more than 300 men, women and children were raped.

Mass sexual assault is tragically common in Congo, but the Luvungi rapes stood out for having taken place in such close proximity to U.N. troops. Amid intensive international criticism, the United Nations issued a report defending the peacekeepers.

‘The Kibua COB has one interpreter and one mobile satellite phone, thus operationally restricting it to one patrol at any given time given the distances and conditions of the roads to be traversed,’ the report stated. The Indian patrol in Luvungi reportedly couldn’t linger long enough to detect the attacks were occurring, with most reportedly taking place indoors, in homes that might have been hundreds of yards apart.

The language barrier is ‘the most difficult portion’ of working in Congo, according to Sgt. Stuart Hammer, a U.S. Army soldier deployed to Kinshasa to train Congolese troops. In the absence of a much larger contingent of interpreters (an unrealistic prospect given the U.N.’s budgetary constraints) the inability of most of the Indian troops in Congo to speak any of the local languages — including French and the local dialect Lingala — seriously undermines their ability to achieve their mission: protecting Congolese civilians.

But despite this serious limitation, non-Francophone Indians and other South Asians comprise a large proportion of the U.N. troops in Congo, for reasons rooted more in South Asian than African history.

Read the rest at The Diplomat.


One Response to “The Diplomat: Why South Asia Loves Peacekeeping”

  1. PBP says:

    On Tue, 21 Dec 2010 13:35:18 +0530 dhruv katoch wrote
    Dear Mr Batra,

    I read your comments with great interest. There are a few points I must clarify.

    The comments given by me to Mr Axe were in a larger context. Unfortunately, the slant of the article as also taking out selective sentences from it and adding them to that respective slant give a picture which I certainly did not intend.

    With respect to the statement attributed to me the full text off what I said is given below

    All three nationsmaintain large standing security forces as part of their security matrix.Hence, troops are available for UN missions unless any of the above nations areat war. The quantum of troops sent are a small percentage of the total forcelevel of these nations and no additional recruitment is required to send forcesfor UN missions. Hence, they do not constitute an additional burden to thesecountries. This must also be viewed in terms of the size of these countrieswhich together comprise nearly 2 billion people. Also, such contribution addsto the influence and credibility of these countries by the performance of theirrespective missions.The countries per segain influence in the region they are serving. Goodwill built can have otherspin off benefits. The troops get an exposure to conflict situations in otherparts of the world, which adds to their operational experience. It also givesboth troops and their commanders a wider and more comprehensive world view.

    In the above statement, only one sentence of 8 words (which I have highlighted above) has been taken and put in a context which was not intended. However, the words used are undeniably mine.

    With respect to peace enforcement my statement as given to Mr Axe is as below… This was in relation to peace enforcement vis a vis peace keeping.

    As most of theconflicts are taking place in Asia and Africa, SouthAsianpeacekeepers find ready acceptance. This may not be true for conflicts in Europe orLatin America. However, the role of the UN in enforcing peace is a major issuewhich needs to be looked into. As of now, the UN does not have the ‘teeth’ toenforce peace anywhere.

    The last line only has been used by the author in his summary. The context as mentioned earlier was peace keeping vs peace enforcement.

    On the issue of finances….I had specifically stated that the Govt gets no financial benefit but troops do. Perhaps in the way the article has been slanted by the author, my statement was better off not given.

    On your second issue of the Maoist threat, I have unfortunately not read the article of Mr Axe. But I would like to reiterate that the Indian security forces are not short of weapons and equipment to fight the Naxals. We have enough. It is an issue of training and leadership. The former DGs of the CRPF and BSF are categorical on this point. Indian business too cannot shy away from their acts of commission andomissionin this region. Please do read the article ‘The heart of our darkness’ written by Mohan Guruswamy on the subject. I am glad that the GOI has finally come down to the view that the Naxal problem has to be dealt with at multiple levels.

    Finally, your concern about East India and Andhra is unwarranted. We are not talking about the North East…but about the red corridor which stretches from North to south along the Eastern portion of India. Enough maps are available on the subject.

    Thank you for your interest and feedback. I think I shall avoid David Axe as he perhaps is on a different agenda and is writing for an American audience.

    Have a Great Day
    Major GeneralDhruv C Katoch, SM, VSM (Retd).
    Additional Director, Centrefor Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
    RPSO Complex, Parade Road, NewDelhi — 110010, India
    Cell: 91-9968956477, E-mail:

    Wenever know how high we are, till we are asked to rise
    And then if we are true to plan our statures touch the skies.
    The Heroism we recite would be a normal thing
    Did not ourselves the cubits warp for fear to be a King. Emily Dickinson
    You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you
    But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew. Nathaniel Crane-‘TheColors’.

    Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 03:31:53 +0000
    Subject: Re: why south asia loves peacekeeping

    Respected Sirs,

    1. times are sad when peacekeping is made out to be a less than honourable profesion. mr david axe has taken an axe to the indian army and the indian nation’s pride and honor.
    2. in a hatchet job that is filled with much misinformtion as rumors, gen dhruv katoch adds fuel to fire with his views that it is greed and not duty,which moves the indian soldier and nation.‘the financial benefits to individuals who proceed on such missions are undeniable,’‘very rarely will an individual turn down an offer for a un assignment.’ when author makes alegasions of dishonorable conduct and intentions… ‘as of now, the united nations doesn’t have the teeth to enforce peace anywhere,’ katoch says.but for south asian countries reaping the benefits of donning the united nations’ distinctive light-blue helmets, that probably doesn’t matter all that much.
    3. maybe gen katoch he is misquoted. But in earlier article mr axe made much of the government’s inability to tackle the naxal problem.and gen katoch was blaming the government, the private sector and pretty much anyone he could find worthwhile.‘in simple words, we can put the causative factors down to poor governance, which is being exploited by the naxals to gather the support of the locals. the naxal movement will die if governance issues are seriously addressed.’ katoch dismisses the equipment debate.‘equipment is not the issue,’ he says.‘leadership and training is.we already have a successful example of handling naxals.’ that is improved governance and economic development paired with sustained security operations that allowed andhra pradesh to diminish the local maoist threat. states just need to adopt and adapt that basic model.
    4. its not simply if gen katoch is right or wrong. he is wrong no doubt. but what is much worse is that the writer confuses andhra pradesh with arunachal pradsh and refers to andhra as a state in eastern part of india cannot possibly get much else right. the author has not done justice to his writing.ut once may be a fluke, twice is not. the fact that general chose to offer his ‘views’ on something that was clerly hatchet job does not bode well for army or those he rpresents.

    Jai Hind

    best regards,


Leave a Reply