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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Pakistan dismisses DR Congo claim
UN troops in DR Congo on 22 July 2006
Pakistan is the biggest contributor to the UN peacekeeping effort
Pakistan has dismissed as not credible allegations that its troops traded in gold and sold weapons to militias in DR Congo while serving as UN peacekeepers.

A spokesman for the Pakistani military, Maj-Gen Wahid Arshad, told the BBC a UN investigation into the matter was still going on and had not named any country.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that the inquiry into the claims may have been blocked for political reasons.

The UN says it will seek to discipline anyone compromising its operations.

A top commander with the FNI militia, who did not want to be named, has telephoned the BBC to confirm that some of his fellow militia leaders had trafficked gold with UN peacekeepers.

He also said they had been given weapons to fight the rival UPC militia.

Trafficking allegations

On Wednesday, the BBC's Martin Plaut said he had found that the UN had begun an internal investigation in early 2006 into allegations that Pakistani peacekeeping troops had traded in gold and sold weapons to Congolese militia groups they were meant to disarm.

The allegations of the locals are humbug, as far as I'm concerned
Maj-Gen Wahid Arshad

The Pakistani battalion at the centre of the claims was based in and around the mining town of Mongbwalu, in the north-east of the country, two years ago.

They helped bring peace to an area that had previously seen bitter fighting between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups.

But witnesses said Pakistani officers had also supplied weapons to notorious militia commanders in return for gold.

When the UN was eventually alerted to the allegations by Human Rights Watch in late 2005, it instituted a major investigation by the Office for Internal Oversight Services.

However, a UN official connected with the inquiry told the BBC there seemed to have been a plan to bury its results, in order to avoid alienating Pakistan - the largest contributor of troops to the UN.

'Baseless'

But Gen Arshad dismissed the allegations about his country's troops as baseless.

"It is a distortion of the facts and it is misleading," he told the BBC's Newshour programme.

"The allegations of the locals are humbug, as far as I'm concerned."

Gen Arshad said the Pakistani government had not been aware that its battalion in DR Congo was being investigated, even though the BBC has seen evidence that the UN sent the battalion's headquarters a letter demanding its full co-operation in the inquiry.

"If the UN felt there was obstruction... they would have informed the government of Pakistan," he said.

"Until the time the report is given to us, and if there are any names in the report, only then will we be able to say something."

In a statement issued in response to the BBC's findings, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Monuc) said no action had been taken because its inquiry was still active.

Despite that, however, Monuc insisted it had an "absolute zero-tolerance policy on misconduct".

Monuc spokesman Kemal Saiki also said that at least 30 UN peacekeepers had been killed in fighting in north-eastern DR Congo, some by FNI fighters.


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