Day of the Dead and Drone Warfare
Dr.Rasheed Hasan Khan
The first of November every year, Christians all over the world celebrate the Day of the Dead or Halloween as it is popularly known. This year the US Establishment celebrated it by launching a drone strike in the Federally Administered Tribal Area which killed among others Hakimullah Mehsud the commander of TTP or Taliban.He was rated a ‘high value target’ ever since his rise to the higher echelons of the TTP and was on the list of putative targets commonly known as ‘Obama’s Kill List’. The drone strike would have been a routine affair had it not been for the publicly announced peace negotiations between the Pakistan Government and the Taliban at this point in time. As expected, the Pakistan Government and the Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali termed the drone strike ‘a deliberate bid to sabotage the peace talks’ and served the US ambassador with a letter of protest.
But according to the daily Dawn,” The US has rejected insinuations that the attack on Mehsud intended to destroy Pakistan’s nascent peace process.
A US State Department official said talks with the Taliban were an internal matter for Pakistan.
The statement insisted that Pakistan and the US had a “shared strategic interest in ending extremist violence”.
“The issue of whether to negotiate with TTP is an internal matter for Pakistan, and we refer you to the government of Pakistan for further details,” said the department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki.
“More broadly, the United States and Pakistan continue to have a vital, shared strategic interest in ending extremist violence so as to build a more prosperous, stable, and peaceful region,” she added.
“We have an ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of the relationship and our shared interests, including security and counterterrorism cooperation, and we work together to address each other’s concerns.”
The rigmarole of diplomatic language aside, the reply fails to mention the benefits of not allowing the negotiations between the Government of Pakistan and the TTP to proceed to their logical conclusion.
The question of Drone Warfare within the borders of Pakistan has been a focus of controversy between Pakistan government,political parties, the public and the US Governments since a very long time. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his recent visit to the USA raised this question in his meeting with President Obama, to be met with a deafening silence…. . The Government of Pakistan has protested that the drone strikes constitute a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan. It is also the assertion of the Pakistani public institutions that a large number of non-combatants are also casualties in the drone strikes. The assertion of the US government regarding the ‘surgical’ nature of the drone strikes and minimal resultant ‘collateral damage’ has been disputed by experts belonging to the US too. Here we shall cite two such examples.
Joe Lombardo the head of UNAC (United National Anti-War Coalition) said. “At the time of our visit to Pakistan, a joint report on drones was issued by New York University (NYU) and Stanford University and another by Columbia University. These reports have documented that up to 6,000 civilians [including 670 women and 176 children] have been killed in Pakistan by the drones in the Waziristan area alone. We met several groups of family members of drone victims. They held up pictures of their murdered relatives and described what had happened
Benjamin Medea in her book KILLING BY REMOTE CONTROL quotes two sources to establish the killing of non-combatants. According to the New America Foundation, between 1,717 and 2,680 people were killed during 2004-2011 and of them 293 to 471 were “civilians”. The UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism puts the number of civilian deaths during the same period at 391 to 780, including 175 children (out of 2,372 to 2,997 casualties).
Amnesty International issued a report in October 2013 which recommended that US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.
The report was issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on drones.
The secret to understanding US foreign policy moves is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away.