It’s nearly impossible to imagine that the army chiefs of India and Pakistan — neighbours who have fought four wars — can share the same stage.
But it is happening this week, thanks to the United Nations.
In a rare assembly, Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh will come face-to-face with his Pakistani counterpart General Raheel Sharif at a UN conference on peacekeeping operations in New York on March 27.
This comes less than a week after India accused Pakistani infiltrators of carrying out terror strikes in Jammu sector.
Army chiefs of countries contributing troops to 16 ongoing peace missions, led by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), are attending the ‘chiefs of defence’ conclave. These missions span from Haiti to South Sudan and Kosovo to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With 7,200 soldiers currently serving peace missions, India is the third-largest contributor of troops to the UN.
Bangladesh and Pakistan are the top contributors with 7,998 and 7,925 troops, respectively.
India and Pakistan may be trading fire and blame along the Line of Control but their soldiers are on the same side, fighting someone else’s wars — under a 15-minute evacuation plan — in killing fields thousands of miles away.
“The dynamics of peace missions are different as we are soldiers representing our countries,” a senior officer said.
It is not uncommon for Indian and Pakistani soldiers to share workstations, plan deployment of forces and assess the outcome of operations in various peace missions.
Indian troops constitute the maximum number of fatalities in peacekeeping history. Conflict on foreign soil has claimed the lives of 158 Indians, compared to the death count of 137 Pakistanis and 123 Bangladeshis.
General Singh will hold talks with under secretary-general for the DPKO Herve Ladsous on Thursday and also meet under secretary-general for field support, Atul Khare, an Indian.