Eastern Slavonia

In pursuance of the Demilitarization Agreement signed between Croatian Government and the Serb representatives in November 1995 at Erdut, the UN was asked to take steps for the implementation of the agreement in the war ravaged areas of Eastern Slavonia, Baranya and Western Sirmium within a period of thirty, days. According to some reports, one hundred tanks, one hundred fifty artillery, pieces and a large quantity of small arms, explosives and ammunition were held by armed groups in the region. Faced with this hazardous task, the UN formed a transitional administrative set-up for the region (UNTAES) to supervise and facilitate the demilitarization process between warring factions of Croatia and Serb militia.

A 1000 soldiers strong Pakistan arm contingent joined UNTAES in the first week of May 19% and assumed its duties on 6 May 1996 after relieving Belgian troops. The perilous task assigned to Pakistani contingent of UNTAES was three dimensional. First it was to maintain high profile presence in the area of responsibility, by carrying out extensive patrolling so as to deter bloody conflicts. Second, it vas to round the clock man tactically important posts including the ones vacated by Serb militia, with a view to prevent opposing elements from infiltrating in each other’s area. Most of these posts were located in thick forests and inaccessible swampy areas. The third task was to disarm a large number of Serb soldiers. It was the most tricky and precarious part of the duty. Finally, it was to monitor the voluntary and safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their home of origin in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Pakistani troops accomplished their mission in the given time. Commander Pakistan Contingent held marathon meetings with Serbian militia in order to persuade them to disarm their soldiers and vacate tactically, important posts overlooking Croation territory. Simultaneously, they remained on high alert and maintained the military face so as to avoid getting surprised. To help monitor safe return of the refugees, the PAKBAT also provided protection to officials and the registration offices established for the purpose.

In addition to the above responsibilities Pakistani contingent also provided medical relief to the people. Since their arrival in Eastern Slavonia, Pakistan Army doctors treated over 13000 civilian patients including over 810 surgical cases in a make shift hospital. Pakistan Army doctors accompanied patrolling teams and also provided door to door medical treatment to elderly people and children left behind by their kith and kin. Organizing family reunions of separated families was yet another humanitarian task performed by the Pakistani contingent. In these reunions PAKBAT provided security and administrative support, life saving arrangements and refreshments to the affectces. Social patrols were also organized on regular basis to provide food stuff to the locals in different villages. Pakistan Army engineers actively participated in demining operations in different areas including Drava bridge site. In this area Serbs had planted a large quantity of mines in haste without keeping proper laying record. It was a difficult mine clearance operation involving risk to life, but Pakistani sappers alongwith others cleared the area after prolonged and tense breath taking hours of hard labour. The Transitional Administrator, Mr Paul Klein and UNTAES Force Commanders Major General Joseph Schoups and Major General Willy Hanset appreciated the services of Pakistan Army contingent and termed it a “great service to humanity.” The local population of the area also developed a deep respect for the Pakistani peace kee pers This can be gauged from the extensive publicity given to Pakistani contingent in the Serb, Croat, Hungarian, Belgian and UN Media.