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Force in New Guinea, West Irian (UNSF)
 

Purpose: Monitor ceasefire during transition of West Irian from Dutch rule to Indonesian 

 
 
 
Background
 

It was agreed between comity of nations that Holland will hand over control of West Irian to the United Nation by 1 October 1962 , prior to its take over by Indonesia for subsequent plebiscite. It was a matter of great honour that Pakistan was asked to undertake the exclusive responsibility of establishing United Nation Temporary Executive Authority in maintaining law and order in this part of the world, until it was handed over to Indonesia in the following year.

This being a challenging task, not only envisaged stalling an impending war between Holland and Indonesia , but also sought projection of the United Nation as a peace broker.

In the circumstances, when the world was focusing its eyes on the UNSF, the Pakistani composite force comprising 14 Punjab Regiment, two companies of 18 Punjab Regiment and supporting elements, disembarked on the coast of Sorong after completing 6000 miles sea voyage on 8 October 1962 . The responsibility of this contingent stretched over hundreds of miles. In order to accomplish the assigned mission the companies were deployed at Merauke, Fak Fak, Sorong and Kaimana.

 
The Battalion Headquarters were positioned at Biak . Pakistani troops effectively prevented skirmishes between Papuans and Indonesian troops. On one such occasion our troops rushed swiftly to Kaimana area on 14 January 1963 , to avoid a bloody conflict and brought the situation under control. In another incident, Pakistani troops (a company strength) were moved to Monokwari by air in response to a distress signal to restore law and order situation threatened by Papuan volunteer Corps. On reaching the spot, it revealed that 350 PVK troops were in a mutinous mood at the Arfak Camp. Pakistani peace keepers restored the situation very tactfully without spilling a single drop of blood.

The Pakistani contingent ensured smooth withdrawal of Dutch troops without any ensuing battles with the Indonesian Army. It also helped Indonesian troops in taking over the control swiftly in a conducive atmosphere. The performance of Pakistani troops was admired by President Soekarno who said, “ It was because of Pakistani troops that Indonesia and Pakistan came so close together, they were Pakistan 's best ambassadors” .

In a rare acknowledgement of good job done, Chinese Premier Chou-En-Lai remarked, “The only example in United Nation's history, when a United Nation military force had gone in, performed its role honestly and came out, was Pakistan's military contingent to Indonesia” .

The control of West Irian was handed over to Indonesia on 1 May 1963 and Pakistani contingent started their return journey the same day amidst enthusiastic slogans and cheers of' Indonesian people.
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Duration
  • 3 October 1962 – 30 April 1963 .
Participation
  • Commander  1x Brigadier.
  • Personnel 1500 Infantry troops comprising 2x Infantry Battalions.
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