Pakistani veteran to become new UN military head in Liberia

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A Pakistani general who is a veteran of the United Nations quick reaction force in Somalia is set to become the next military head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), a spokesperson said.
 
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Lieutenant General Sikander Afzal as UNMIL Force Commander in succession to Lieut.-Gen. A.T.M. Zahirul Alam of Bangladesh, whose duty ended yesterday, Marie Okabe added.
 
In 1994 and 1995, Lieut.-Gen. Afzal commanded the quick reaction force of the UN Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II), which had been mandated to protect major ports, airports and infrastructure in the strife-torn country, provide humanitarian relief, help to reorganize the Somali police and judicial system, repatriate and resettle refugees and displaced people, and protect UN and other humanitarian personnel.
 
Lieut.-Gen. Afzal, who was born in 1952, has had a distinguished military career since joining the Pakistani army in 1972, commanding armoured and infantry brigades, and serving as the director-general for strategic analysis in the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Since 2006 he has been serving as corps commander with responsibility for more than 30 000 military personnel.
 
In his new post he will head a force that numbered over 10 000 as of 31 August in a country where the UN Mission played a major role in restoring stability and a democratic government chosen in free elections after more than a decade of civil war.
 
But in a report to the Security Council in August, Ban warned that the gains remain fragile, especially with regard to security, rule of law and job creation.