ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani police officer who received multiple awards from the United Nations in recognition of his peacekeeping service in former Yugoslavia says his international experience has helped him when he returned to Pakistan to serve in northwestern regions that had long been affected by militancy.
Recognized by the UN as the Best Police Officer of Asia in 2012, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sajjad Khan served under the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The special mission was established in 1999, when the UN decided to deploy in Kosovo an international civil and security presence to end an armed conflict in the region in the wake of the deadly 1991-2001 war in the Balkans that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Khan's service in the Balkans began in 2003. He returned to Pakistan in 2012, when international supervision ended and Kosovo became responsible for its own governance.
#LISTEN: Pakistani cop recognized by #UN as "Best Police Officer" in 2012 shares his #peacekeeping experience in #Kosovo that helped him serve in militant strongholds of northwestern #Pakistan || @UNpeacekeeping @KP_Police1
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— Arab News Pakistan (@arabnewspk) October 19, 2020
"I have learned a lot during my three tenures in UN as along with field duties, I have also attended many professional courses which has helped me in improving my own and team performance after coming back," said the officer who upon his return was deployed to the rural areas of Swabi and Peshawar districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which had seen major terrorist activities in the past decade.
Currently in service as SP rural Peshawar, he recalls how during his first tour of duty he went to train police personnel in Prizren, southern Kosovo, who soon managed to reach European standards.
“When I went there in 2003, we used to train their police force ... I was awarded a medal by the United Nations (UN) for my excellent service there," Khan told Arab News. "When I went there in 2007, I have found a lot progress in their system which was following European model and it was far ahead of us."
In 2007, he served as an internal investigator in Pristina, the country's capital, and in 2009 became the legal liaison officer with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which investigated crimes committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo.
As international investigations into the wider Yugoslav conflict were ongoing at that time, during trials at the International Court of Justice war criminals from the region were sometimes granted provisional or emergency release. Khan was responsible for their return to the Hague.
“My unit was responsible for their security and return to the Hague. Our unit also discovered mass graves which also helped the International Court of Justice in genocide cases," he said.
During his 2009-2012 mission, Khan was the only police officer from South Asia serving with the ICTY.
This final peacekeeping mission, he said, was also what brought him the highest accolade.
“I was awarded medal of the Best Police Officer by the UN for my services in ICTY at the end my mission in 2012."a