Qandeel Shaam writes on the infamous drone attacks in Pakistan and raises some pertinent questions. We hope that this voice is heard in the blogosphere and elsewhere. (PTH)
Is it me or have Pakistanis been conspicuously quiet about US drones buzzing about in their territory?
On January 27, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates vowed to continue carrying out missile strikes “against al-Qaeda in Pakistan.” A few days ago, on 28 March 2009, US National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones defended US drone attacks in Pakistan, claiming that “the attacks have done a couple of things: One, they have been targeted very specifically against al Qaeda, two, they produce very low collateral damage.”
Wow. Encroaching upon another country’s territory, sovereignty, and targeting militants that only you have the intelligence of seeing? Killing civilians, women and children, in the process? Is this “low collateral damage”? Is the US so arrogantly bumptious or Pakistan so pussywhipped?
There have been numerous reports of civilians dying in the process, so how are the targets “specific”? Is it even possible for the targets to be “specific” when the alleged militants are hiding out in residential houses or madrassas? To quote Juan Cole, “it’s not a precision sort of business, and if you strike at a village, you are likely to kill locals and civilians.”
Furthermore, it is not – I repeat, NOT – rocket science to be able to see that you are merely adding grist to the militancy mill by conducting such strikes. Is the mess in Afghanistan not proof enough of this? And when top terrorists start making references to the US strikes in Pakistan in their tirades, are they not managing to incite more hatred and get more recruits? When the average tribesman or city dweller in Pakistan hears about these attacks, don’t they resent the US? Are they provoked? Doesn’t it also aggravate the Pakistani expat living in the West?
On some level, doesn’t our shock and indignation at the ballsy US violation outweigh our dislike for the militants? So how exactly are these US drones in Pakistan combating extremism?
Only this year:
January 1: a suspected US missile strike killed five “Taliban militants” (later dubbed “al-Qaeda leader” in Pakistan) in South Waziristan.
January 2: US spy planes fire missiles at a government girls’ primary school and a car allegedly owned by militants, in South Waziristan.
January 23: first attack since Barack Obama assumed presidency. Missile strikes by US drones in North Waziristan killed 10 people, six of whom were allegedly hardcore militants. South Waziristan was attacked on the same day – killing local tribesmen (including children) according to official and tribal sources.
February 16: first (known) US drone strike in Kurram Agency; three missiles fired, killing 30 suspected militants.
March 1: US drones fire two missiles at a house – claimed to be a “Taliban sanctuary” – in South Waziristan, killing 12 people.
March 12: US drones strike a “Taliban training camp” in Kurram Agency, killing 15 and injuring 50.
March 15: two missile attacks killed 5 people in the Bannu district of NWFP.
March 25: seven Arabs were allegedly killed in a US drone attack in the Makeen area of South Waziristan
March 26: US drones fired two missiles into a house in Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing four residents
Under the Bush administration, the initial targeting was mainly against the hide-outs and training camps of al-Qaeda and its associates. Under Obama, the targets have been expanded to cover the hide-outs and training camps of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in all these areas and of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe-Islami in the Kurram Agency. There are talks now of extending military operations to Balochistan “where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan” I don’t know how much of this constitutes “political posturing”, but it doesn’t matter if it adds immediately and fiercely to the anti-US sentiments prevalent already in Pakistan, amongst the extremists and increasingly the layperson. And the Pakistani diaspora.
On February 13 came the revelation (by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) that the US predators are flown from an airbase inside Pakistan. The CIA declined to comment while Pakistani officials chose denial. Rehman Malik, for example, offered no comment on the statement of Maj-Gen (R) Rahat Latif that as part of a secret agreement between former President Pervez Musharraf and the United States, NATO could intrude into Pakistani territory in pursuit of terrorists.
So what happens next?
You could say that Pakistan was already on a merry old flight to hell, but now the US has hijacked the plane, and made it less merry.
 “Drone strikes are effective,” 28 March 2009, Dawn
 Juan Cole, “Engaging the Muslim World,” 17 March 2009, Democracy Now!
 “Four killed in North Waziristan drone attack,” 26 March 2009, Dawn website, http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/Dawn%20Content%20Library/dawn/news/pakistan/nwfp/4-killed-in-north-waziristan-drone-attack–il, accessed 26 March 2009
 “At least 4 killed, several injured as US drone fired 2 missile in Essokhel,” 26 March 2009, The Nation
 David Sanger & Eric Schmitt, “US weighs Taliban strike into Pakistan,” 17 March 2009, The New York Times
 Tariq Butt, “Suicide bombers, handlers & financers are all Pakistanis: Malik”, 9 September 2008, The News, downloaded from Watandost blog website, http://watandost.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html, accessed 16 March 2009
26 responses to “US drone attacks in Pakistan – canon don’t kill mosquito”
Disappointing that a reputed blog like PTH would publish reactionary ‘analysis’ like this post. Pakistan, the authorities at least, is quiet because deep down, we know this is the best possible way to deal with this at the moment.
The author rails against the ‘violation of our sovereignty’. But why is there NO mention of the fact that these terrorists are the ones who violated our sovereignty in the first place; would these drone strikes be taking place if these scummers weren’t setting up terror-emirates on our soil? Is Mehsud’s emirate not a violation of our sovereignty? Are the Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks and Africans in our tribal areas not violating our sovereignty by killing civilians in Pakistan; where are their passports, are they here on holiday?
Sovereignty implies effective control of territory; do we have that or has that been violated by the terrorist groups? If we don’t have control over territory that is being used to violate the sovereignty of another country, then how can we bleat about our sovereignty?
As for collateral damage, of course there is collateral damage. And it is regrettable. But in this very post, the author admits that the terrorists are using civilians, including women and children, as human shields. What is a state supposed to do then? Should we sit on our hands and expect the goodness in their hearts to come out? Talking to them over tea and biscuits hasn’t done the trick, so what do we do then?
For sure, terrorists are using their propaganda arm to recruit people based on these strikes; but it is only the schizophrenic Muslims of Pakistan that tend to fall for it. No one questions the presence of terrorists on our soil: “They are Muslims so they can never hurt other Muslims…it’s all a Jewish-American-Zionist-RAW conspiracy”. What bollocks.
No serious surveying has been done in the tribal areas, but it is telling what a survey conducted by a Canadian research group found. 60 percent of Afghans think coalition troops are doing good work and should stay. Only 18 percent of Afghans want them to leave. Consider this in light of Human Rights Watch reports from the last three years which show that for every one civilian killed during a US/NATO raid or strike, the Taliban and Al Qaeda have killed three in similar raids and strikes. So please save the outrage about collateral damage.
That you refuse to condemn the terrorists and instead target the one strategy that has the terrorists on the run says a lot for your perspective. Tell me, did you shed tears when one of the Al Qaeda operatives that planned several bombings (claiming at least a hundred Pakistani lives) was killed in a drone strike? Most of the people dying in these strikes are Taliban/Al Qaeda operatives, and yes, the targeting HAS improved because human intel has improved.
So please, make a case for a viable alternative that will restore our sovereignty and reduce the bloodshed before crying about drone strikes; I’m all ears.
Thanks for the comment. The truth is that violence begets violence and war can never solve a complex issue such as violence based along ethno-nationalistic lines. If this was the case then eight years of US presence ought to have led to some results within Afghanistan. Sadly, the country remains fractured, poor and ravaged.
I condemn Al-Qaeda networks and their presence on our soil – but the civilians and what is known as ‘collateral damage’ is far more dangerous – each household produces a jihadi when an innocent child is killed. How do we tackle that.
Let us also not forget that war in Afghanistan has to end now. Please do consider that a sizable number of pashtuns think that their land has been occupied and therefore parts of the Taliban are now freedom fighters thanks to US/NATO misadventure.
We have to find a regional solution and a coalition of Afghans to manage their country under the aegis of UN –
Otherwise we might lose Pakistan in the process and that is extremely sad for us and also dangerous for the region.
There are 2 major actions that have spawned an unending chain of insurgents and terrorists.
One was the attack on Iraq and the other was the bombardment of Afghanistan.
Both these have created a seething resentment amongst those who have suffered. It therefore follows that if people in NWFP are being bombarded, (without even passing a judgment on whether such bombing is justified), this can produce this kind of a reaction there too.
While I agree that war alone is never the answer; the military component is absolutely essential in the current conflict. Also, I disagree with your characterisation of this conflict as one ‘along ethno-nationalistic’ lines. While most of the footsoldiers are Pashtun, a significant percentage of terrorists operating in this region have nothing to do with indigenous tribal/ethnic/nationalist fractures. These includes the Arabs, the Africans, the Central Asians and indeed Punjabis. It’s a war being fought in the name of religion. Regardless of whether such use of religion is right or not, it is being used and very effectively. This religious ‘flavour’ of the insurgency shoots down all theses that claim everything will be fine and dandy if the coalition forces leave. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not reactionary forces; they have a proactive agenda that is reflected in their activities from well before 9/11. You are right, the post-9/11 offensive has given them a leg to stand on as far as recruitment is concerned. But letting them be is not an option; we tried it from 2003-2005, and it failed miserably. I would go as far as saying had Pakistani troops from the east and coalition troops from the west really put the squeeze on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2003, the likelihood of a resurgence like the one we see today would have been greatly reduced.
Of course, the aim should be for Pakistan and Afghanistan to be stable states that can manage their own affairs. But Afghanistan has no economy apart from heroin, and Pakistan doesn’t have the resources or training to effectively counter terrorism. This is a very, very long-term project. While there is negative reaction to the presence of foreign troops, that is insignificant compared to the opinion that favours the presence of foreign troops. The Afghans, Pashtuns included, know that if the coalition troops pack up and leave tomorrow, the Taliban will overrun the country yet again. We also need American money to fund the very development projects and domestic solutions you’re proposing.
It would be wonderful if we could find an indigenous solution that would not require the use of force. But the bitter fact is that there is none yet. The best indigenous solutions/proposals so far have been to surrender territory to the terrorists a la Swat or more ‘muzakirat’ as proposed by Karzai. Neither have worked, and neither will work. If we take our foot off the gas as far as force is concerned, it will only aid the terrorists. So until we come up with a solution that does not involve the use of force, we need to sustain it.
I’m flattered you even compared this post to an “analysis.” A “reaction” it was, one that ought to be natural, were we not so blasé about or de-sensitized to (or in your case, apologetics of) such violations.
Suicide attacks in Afghanistan rose from 1 in 2001 to over 1,200 in 2008. Suicide bombing was unheard of in Pakistan before the Pak army started conducting operations in the tribal areas, at the behest of the US and its so-called War on Terror. The Afghan and Pak Taliban decided to unite after the US announced an additional 17,000 troops in Afghanistan, thus threatening become a stronger, more dangerous force. So how is this strategy that you believe has the “militants on the run”, delivering? By causing ever the more bloodshed and feeding a very vicious cycle? I’m no genius, but I think the efficacy of a counter-terrorism strategy can be measured by the increase/decrease in terrorism that comes as a result of employing it. Militancy in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, has intensified drastically, in the aftermath of blowing up supposed targets (and their “low collaterals”). That’s why there is now talk (that is unlikely to translate to action) of moving away from this unidimensional approach, and why NATO has been hesitant to heed US appeals.
Part of the reason militancy has increased is because it isn’t only the “schizophrenic Muslims of Pakistan” who buy into the terrorist propaganda. For every terrorist or civilian killed by a US/Pak strike, ten more are produced, or can easily be produced.
There has been an exploitative paradigm shift in the narrative: the War no Terror has sneakily morphed into the War on Terrorism and the focus is now on eradicating terrorism in the Af-Pak region. Are groups in Pakistan a direct threat to the US? I don’t think so. Are they a threat to US/ISAF in Afghanistan? Likely. But does that give it the right to bomb Pakistan? No, there is and shouldn’t be any justification for it; especially in light of the evidence that such actions only beget more militancy, not curtail it.
You forget that there are a lot of hawks and armament manufacturers from the West and their lackeys that make money hand over fist in such situations.
It is all about commerce, it never was about WMDs in Iraq, militants in Afghanistan, or terrorists in Pakistan.
Those who had to make money made it, others paid with their lives or destruction of their economy
Just as you consider the unification of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban to be the result of additional deployment in Afghanistan, many other observers consider it a reaction to the losses they’ve suffered (especially at the levels of their mid-tier and top-tier leadership). The fact remains, drone strikes are THE most effective force in the current situation. Better to have the terrorists pinned than roaming about freely (as was the case before).
You still haven’t addressed my main question: what’s the alternative? Do we let the Taliban and Al Qaeda do whatever they want? Because that’s what will happen if we take use of force off the table. Again, I’m all ears.
Thank you for your eager ears.
If your kid is misbehaving, would you like for a neighbour (from a distant zip code), to come and slap him around, say with knives and nunchucks? Shouldn’t you be the one to discipline him in your own way?
I can feel immense hatred or condemnation for the kid, but I will be more appalled by the overbearing hubris and bullying tactics of the neighbour who barges in to set matters straight. One outweighs the other.
So the issue of whether force is right or wrong (it is wrong) is secondary to who is deciding whether force is right or wrong. Right now it seems that the US is “forcing” itself upon Pakistan, rather than using force to rid Pakistan of militants. Even if we make the latter first in our ordinal reality, it has proven to be unproductive.
We need to focus our attention on devising a tractable solution, and that would be easier done without the US violently poking about.
the solution is simple.In SWAT we have relative peace now because we agreed to there demands.f they want to impose sharia in punjab,then let it be.our motto should be buy peace at any cost.
raza,the terrorists these dont consider themselves to be pakistanis anymore.even if the war was fought entirely by pakistani state ,they would have come up with these dreadful attacks.i agree thet drone attack is an insult to the soveriegnity of n independant nation and is doing more harm than good and should be changed as a tactic.at the sametime you must understand international community started to interfere in your personal affairs only when u could not or would not put your house in order ur self.
my point is we could reconsider drone attack as a change in tactics.but people of pakistan should understand from where there clear and present danger lies.
I understand where you are coming from. Surely, any sovereign nation would not like some other nation forcing itself upon it, even if it is purportedly for its benefit.
Now, is the time for Pakistan to assert itself and show the US that it can do it!
Your analogy of the situation under discussion with a misbehaving child in a household isn’t useful, but I’ll play ball:
Imagine that the child is misbehaving. But he has already slit the throats of his two sisters, is in the process of stealing valuables and money, and holds enough firepower to prevent you from ‘disciplining’ him. Further, because you have no control over him, he’s also chucking grenades across the wall into the neighbour’s house and has slit the throats of his daughters too.
Okay, NOW it makes a little more sense, no? So if the neighbour sees that you’ve got no control over this child, and the child’s main demand (to control everything and to have everyone subservient to his wishes) is unacceptable to any reasonable parent, the neighbour will act to ensure that the ‘misbehaving child’ doesn’t murder any more of his family.
So if you show anger at the neighbour for trying to take out the child that has already killed members of your own family, do you really have a leg to stand on?
That’s the point in the end: until and unless Pakistan comes up with a way to neutralise the terrorists, the drone strikes will continue. And given that the Pakistani establishment, both civilian and military, knows that these strikes are doing something that the Pakistani state’s military apparatus has proved incapable of, there will be continued silence.
I keep hearing about a ‘tractable solution’ and a ‘homegrown solution’ (and, of course, outrage at the ‘violation of our sovereignty’ – hah), but you still haven’t told me what that is.
@lal: The relative peacei in Swat is based on the pleasure of the Taliban. Sufi Muhammad will not prosecute any of the Taliban for the atrocities they’ve committed against the Swatis, including acid burnings, beheadings and target-killings. He will also not allow any lawyers and has kicked the legal setup out (wonder when the wukla will march against that?). So the ‘swift justice’ that has been promised to the Swati people and the ‘relative peace’ is going to be managed by a shitehawk mullah who thinks democracy is haram.
So NO, we shouldn’t give into their demands just for peace. There are certain principles that are worth fighting for, and I’m sure the parents of the girls whose faces were burned with acid by the brave warriors of Islam would agree with me.
And given that Sufi Muhammad and his mad son-in-law want no control of the Pakistani state, isn’t that an erosion of our sovereignty? We cannot ‘buy’ price by dropping our pants and leaving our arses to the mercy of the very people who terrorised us in the first place. There’s a word for it: surrender.
Oh wait, it’s only a violation of sovereignty when the US does it.
You’re confusing your cause and effect. A kid is not born as villainous characters from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Of course prone to some mischief, but what is the twist in their development that causes them to go on killing sprees?
When did suicide bombing become norm in Pakistan? When did extremist groups, like say sectarian outfits, who’d previously been rather picky about their targets, start with cross-country carnages?
It is the military operations in the tribal areas, it is symbolic attacks on places like the Red Mosque, etc, that has turned the country into a slaughterhouse. The is the effect. The kid is provoked, and round and round we go.
But… I hope you’re right! And the bad guys get to kill all the other bad guys, and there is an abrupt end to violent reciprocity, and everyone’s happy.
You need to read up a bit more about the 1990s in Pakistan: sectarian groups went on similar rampages during the 1990s, except they were only killing each other then. And the current violence is hardly random: every target is either symbolic or strategic. And after all, what invited the coalition into Afghanistan? A massive, symbolic suicide attack – 9/11 – which was coordinated by a Pakistani, and traced back to an organisation that was without doubt operating from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you suggesting that we shouldn’t have taken action against Taliban and Al Qaeda elements in the tribal areas? What should we have done instead?
Attacks like the one in Lahore were not common in the 90s. The militant agenda inside Pak has expanded, as have their activities. And the writing on the wall is that they will continue. So what do you make of Baitullah’s message today… “We will continue our attacks until the Pakistan government stops supporting the Americans”?
How many attacks like the one in Lahore do we allow? And how far do we allow the US to go in chasing al-Qaeda in Pakistan? Missilse strikes in FATA and NWFP. Balochistan has been named, there is more and more talk of a “Punjabi Taliban” and terrorist attacks inside Punjab are testimony to an established militant structure in the province. So in the name of killing bin Laden and Baitullah, we can expect drones all over Pak?
We don’t allow ANY attacks, ideally. Mehsud wants an end to drone strikes AND to operations by Pakistani troops: so we should let him do what he wants?!
Rest assured that despite the protests we ‘officially’ lodge with the US embassy every time there’s a drone strikes, we’re in this with the US. And like it or not, the US and Pakistan are allies as far as Al Qaeda and the Tallies are concerned.
I fully support a hybrid strategy, but cannot disregard the military component’s importance: we cannot win this without credible deterrent.
I repeat my question: what do you propose we do about the terrorists then, given that we know they will continue their operations regardless of foreign presence in Afghanistan until they establish their writ over Afghanistan and Pakistan? They want to conquer us, and in my opinion, we can’t let them. If that means cooperating with the US or swallowing our pride to let Predators take out an Al Qaeda scumbag who bombed innocent civilians in Lahore and Islamabad, so be it.
(The Baitullah quote was supposed to be “the attack was in retaliation for the continued drone strikes by the US in collaboration with Pakistan on our people.”)
Ask me one more time, maybe then I’ll answer.
I doubt it; if you had an answer, it would’ve been posted by now.
Maybe. Maybe not.
At any rate, not knowing the perfect recipe for the perfect beef enchilladas doesn’t mean that I’m wrong in saying that you DO NOT need dog entrails to make it.
I’m hardly asking for a perfect recipe; merely asking for a direction that does not involve force, the use of which you’ve already termed ‘wrong’. So nothing specific, just give me a general idea of what we should do with the terrorists.
i m sorry i misdirected u.i was using some reverse logic.i expected others to fall for it,not u.anyways my point is simple.we(i am an indian,but by we i mean liberal people on both side) have to have both a military and political strategy.in swat ,the taliban was holding the aces,they threatens us with 2 options,either we give in to there demands or we face their ire.we gave in and we lost.we have to reverse it.we have to show our force , we should make it clear that people there have 2 options,either death or a honourable settlement,and then we should force the honourable settlement.the drone attacks takes us nowhere,cos anti americanism is a very fundemental concept in most of south asia.the threat , i always feel achieve an equal effect,with less collateral damage.
As sad as it is to see innocent civilians killed in the drone attacks, it’s even more sad to see that people in Pakistan and that part of the world in general don’t know whats good for themselves.
There has been a gradual rise in radicalism and tolerance for extremism in the past two decades.
These attacks target people involved in extremist activities and yes innocent people get killed in the process as well. But the truth is that the Pakistani military does not have capability and motivation required to deal with these terrorist groups. The U.S is carrying out these attacks in it’s own interest but ridding Pakistan of these elements is ultimately benefiting Pakistan.
INNOCENT CIVILIAN:I will ask you its legality when your family (GOD FORBID) is one of them.
TERRORIST:Forget the ones that are.BUT what about the ones infront of our eyes we are making.ITS TRUE you go ask average pakistani they hate and I mean Really HATE those who are bombing pakistan.
EXTREMIST:Its hard to count how many civilians the ALLIED forces have killed.Let alone the whole country of AFGHANISTAN destroyed.
CAUSE for fighting:Can anyone tell me there are so many countries in africa and some in asia which are labelled upto the TOP LEADERS.But why only afghan and IRAQ were victims of our BOMBINGS and still are.
SOLUTION:For those who are looking into one.First look why we are bombing these 2 countries and now PAkistan?Is there no one else in the world that the presidents are called terrorist and ……?
REALITY:If you have a hammer everything is a NAIL.We have become so insensitive of dying people that we find it more interesting talking about the next BOLLYWOOD movie.
WAKE UP:STOP FINDING solutions in KILLING
First of all we need to understand what is terrorism and who these people are. There were no Taliban in Afghanistan prior to soviet invasion. They were created and funded by CIA and ISI with the help of some other middle eastern states. The teen agers were send to madrasas and tough hatred. They were told that it is your religous duty to fight against infedals who oppress you. Some came from other Muslim states to join the Holy War. Hence they defeated the Soviet Umpire and after the Soviet withdrawl, USA who was funding them also turned their back, despite Pakistan asked for help to stabilize the Afghanistan. Now they started seeing USA as an opressor in Palistine and there comes 9/11 and you know what happened afterwards.
The terrorism can be defeated by addressing the root causes as it grows like a tree, what USA is doing is cutting leaves and branches and leaving the roots intact.
The fundamental root causes are: Religion, Injustice and opression and to some extent poverty and ignorance. These people fight on the pre text that may come in the form of occupation and opression by foreign forces. I must mention here that this problem is not unique to Islam only, fundamentalism is present in all religions in one form or another, for example Neocon in US want to build a state of Israel on Palistine lands, India want Kashmir but not Kashmiris, but in this case fundamentalist may become Presidents and Prime Ministers and they are control the Govt policies and Armed forces.
So first of all we need to address the core issues like Palistine and Kashmir and denounce terrorism and injustice in it’s essence.
Then we may recommend the use of force but it should be very limited, very targeted and large emphasis should be on intelligence which can pin down terrorists so that civilian lifes can be saved. If we end up killing more civilians than we can kill the terrorist than War is not justified and should be rolled back. Further death of innocent people are recruiting tools for extremists. Drones doesn’t fit in this defination and hence air strikes should be very limited and should only be used if ground forces are in trouble. Further drones are increasing anti Americanism in Pakistan and destabilizing the it’s economy and it becomes hard for the Govt to build any confidence with the local people.
Helping the local economy and building the infra structure is another way we can go around this problem. We can help these kids go to schools rather than madrasas. We can help create jobs which can give hope and idle can become part of solution rather than being part of problem.
Thus USA is fighting this war for it’s prestige and spending $65 billion per year on combat where the ratio between civilian deaths vs extremist deaths vs coalation deaths is very unfavourable for civilians and they are paying the economic cost too.
This War may last for another decade and may cost another trillion to US economy for a country which is making less than $800 million per year.
@Cheema: India want Kashmir but not Kashmiris
I think this is a misconception.
Even many otherwise fairminded writers and commentators like to lump the Palestinian and the Kashmiri issue together (they are both labelled occupied by Pakistan) yet the situation is very dissimilar.
Palestinian people live under a foreign occupation in an environment of economic, social and political aparthied. Kashmiris on the other hand enjoy full rights as Indian citizens with equal representation.
This is not to whitewash the fact that Kashmiris have suffered gross human right violations and other injustices that are always a sad part and parcel of a land living for years in the shadow of a low intensity conflict.
Yet the two situations are very different. A case in point; while men women and even children are routinely shot dead in the occupied Palestinian territories without recource to justice, such actions while sadly do occur in Kashmir but are routinely investigated by the press and human rights activists.
A recent example is that of a rape and murder of two women that horrified all Indians and recently the high court ordered a high powered probe into it.
I do understand that the Kashmir issue generates a lot of emotions in Pakistan. I personally believe that the issue of justice for every Kashmiri should concern every Indian and every other human being. That is OK.
However I strongly believe that equating the grievences of the Kashmiris with that of the occupation of Palestinian people who are actively discriminated against and denied a citizenship by a self declared occupying power does the Kashmiris a disservice.
It also a disservice to the impressionable youth of Pakistan who are misled by calls of Jihad and end up as cannon fodder in a cause of a people who actually enjoy more individual freedom under the Indian constitution than the so called liberators themselves.
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Drones don’t bring peace
5:49 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010 | Permalink
Letter to the Editor E-mail | Suggest a blog topic
While drone attacks have killed some Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, concurrent civilian casualties are undermining overall U.S. objectives in the region.
The Obama administration’s stated goals for drone warfare were to reduce violence, win the hearts and minds of Pakistanis and defeat the Taliban. But according to a report by a respected policy think tank in Washington, The New America Foundation,” U.S. drone strikes don’t seem to have had any great effect on the Taliban’s ability to mount operations in Pakistan or Afghanistan”. The report also suggests drone strikes violate the principle of proportionality under international law.
The administration’s claim that drone strikes are effective in confronting militants based in Pakistan is not supported by facts either. Despite the expanded use of Predator attacks, record levels of violence are being seen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ironically, most Pakistanis view the US as the greater threat.
Drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, have failed to reduce violence, serve as a recruiting tool for the Taliban and may well violate international law. It is time to end drone warfare in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Hadi Jawad, co-chair of the “Save Pakistan” Committee, Dallas Peace Center
Posted by Odinsword @ 6:26 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
The last time I checked Hadi, we aren’t there to make peace. We are there to root out, hunt down and eliminate those who were determined to carry out their violence against us. So far…the drones seem to do more than their share of just that. I also don’t care to indulge your cries for the “callateral damge.” Every victim of September 11, 2001 was callateral damage. Fight fire with fire I say.
report as objectionable
Posted by dcrowe @ 7:46 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
Hadi is correct.
The drones are killing a terrible number of civilians. The facts cited by the New America Foundation show that we’re not safer due to their use, and the civilian toll is unacceptably high.
Odinsword assertion that we should “fight fire with fire” is ridiculous. We should kill 3,000 innocent people? We should ram planes full of civilians into buildings full of civilians? We should become terrorists? I don’t care to indulge that kind of ugliness.
report as objectionable
Posted by John Randolph Hardison Cain @ 7:59 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
Odinsword, Hadi Jawad’s letter to the editor pointed out that the use of drones in Pakistan is counterproductive, likely illegal, and destabilizing to Pakistan. Your letter is about revenge and little else.
report as objectionable
Posted by Finley Wheatback @ 8:06 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
“The New American Foundation”? Give me a break. You might as well have said, “According to this guy my brother knows who works a Gaspipe part time.” Who cares?
It’s just technology. If it’s not working out, then improve it or eliminate it.
You said despite use of drones there are record levels of violence on Pakistan and Afghanistan. HELLO. Despite everything we have tried there are record levels of violence in these areas.
I’m for drones. We have 20 years of training on video games that says this technology is the future. No American lives at stake, and lots and lots of virtual pilots ready to go.
report as objectionable
Posted by elias @ 8:18 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
“We are there to root out, hunt down and eliminate those who were determined to carry out their violence against us.” These are the words of someone who has totally no clue as to what “we” are there for. The Afghans, other than hosting Osama bin Laden after he was driven out of Sudan by the US, had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban had no interest in international terrorism.
The drone strikes are beside the point anyway. The US’s operation in Afghanistan is ill advised, as was the Iraq war, to put it mildly. After all manned US aircraft have proven to be just as murderous as drones.
Collateral Murder – Wikileaks – Iraq:
report as objectionable
Posted by DFG @ 8:23 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
It is a great day when one of our Predator drones kills a jihadi Hadi.
Hadi Jawad is just another mouth organ for CAIR. Ignore him. CAIR talks peace while they plot against us behind our backs. CAIR is a terrorist organization. Their members should be rounded up and deported. They claim that Islam is a religion of peace when in reality it is a religion of pieces as in Muslims desire to blow up us infidels into small pieces.
Mohammad (PBUH – Piss Be Upon Him)
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Posted by Mike @ 8:59 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
So if a terroist kills innocent people while also succeeding in his goals that is bad but if we do it is good.
When innocent people are killed, does it make a difference in how (drones verses say car bombs or back packs)?
We need to go back to pinpoint selective targets even if this means we miss a few targets of opportunity. otherwise, we are no better than the enemy we are trying to eliminate.
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Posted by Vince @ 10:29 PM Fri, Apr 09, 2010
Is the target Taliban or al Qaeda? Who is reporting the civilian deaths? What is that person(s)definition of a civilian? What proof can be presented that any of these “civilians” were not facilitators? Just a few questions that need to be answered before accusations are made.
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Posted by donnal @ 3:54 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
The Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders don’t bring peace, either, and since when did they concern themselves with collateral damage?
When I start hearing that peaceful Muslims are standing up to the terrorist, Imams and other religious leaders that have evidently hijacked a religion, only then should America reconsider use of the drones.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the drones are used to protect American soldiers. Whose to say those “innocent” civilians surrounding the target wouldn’t pick up a gun and fire on our soldiers if possible? These very organizations target their own people with suicide bombs.
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Posted by Anonymous @ 7:27 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
Donnal, are you saying it is best to kill them all and let God sort them out?
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Posted by Bill Burris @ 8:08 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
When, in the process of eliminating a terrorist, there are civilian casualties because said terrorists, after his cowardly attacks, chooses to cowardly hide amongst civilians, then it is the terrorist that has caused the deaths of the civilians.
When the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, they had a greater responsibility to the Afghan people other than making sure no other monuments to religions other than Islam existed, no matter how ancient. The allowed, if not invited, al Qaeda to base itself in Afghanistan. The battles raging now are their responsibility. Further, when the demand to relinquish the terrorists was made after 9/11, if not terror sympathizers, they could have complied, or requested aid in ridding themselves of al Qaeda. Their dedication to terror is clear by their continued fight against stabilizing the nation and the ongoing terrorist activity. The fact that they have infected Pakistan, terrorized that nation, entered into negotiated settlements to achieve peace, then abrogated those agreements further removes any reason for mercy for those who are smitten by the Predators.
Since it is doubtful that Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers actually wish for peace, their complaints must indicate that the drone operations have a seriously disruptive effect upon their terror operations. Keep it up. Death from above.
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Posted by donnal @ 8:15 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
NOoooo. Where did I say that? It’s a war. They attack civilians. They dress as civilians, not in uniforms. They hide behind civilians. They live among civilians. Churches are sanctuaries for the humbled, not a shield to be used for the terrorists. They are jeopardizing the lives of the civilians, here and there. They kill their own people to achieve their means. They don’t abide by any war treaties, they make up their own rules. Am I supposed to have pity on them? They operated for years and none of the leaders or people of the land, other than the Kurds, fought against them.
I don’t like war, had two sons in the military. Should we or anyone else live in fear? Should we not be able to walk down the street, go to work, get on public transportation, etc., without having to worry, due to their mentality, ideology and the fact that they’ve been brainwashed to believe suicide is a good thing? They are the ones who make threats toward American and Israeli civilians; they want to harm more American civilians and/or leave them waiting in fear? I liked living in peace and freedom. Did you?
The drones protect our soldiers. I’ll side with them for now.
Their hiding among us is no different, in a sense, than you hiding behind anonymous.
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Posted by JR @ 8:51 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
We would be much better off to declare victory and get out of Afghanistan. The trouble with the drone attacks is that they are a halfway measure and don’t improve the safety of our soldiers enough to justify the damage they do to our image. We can take one of two approaches. We can continue trying to establish a democratic government in an area where the concept of a nation is somewhat vague. To do this, we need the support and friendship of the people of Afghanistan. We cannot be seen as occupiers and hostile invaders. Heavy use of the drones and killing civilians is very detrimental to this approach. The second approach we can take is the one used by the Mongols when they took the country in 1219. The Mongols were prepared to kill everyone. Numerous cities were destroyed with huge loss of life. The Mongols were also the last invaders to have real success in the area. The drone attacks help neither approach and should be kept to a minimum.
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Posted by jack @ 10:15 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
One convincing argument that I have read about the use of drones is that, first and foremost, it sets a precedent in how wars are fought and will be fought. So, let’s say the UK decided that they are going to target UK extremists in our country without declaring war. The “surgical” strikes would happen when and where they choose.
Are you willing to accept another country, based on the premise that their motives, intentions and politics are morally infallible and the enemy’s are not, carrying out drone strikes in which civilian casualties will almost always occur?
Pakistan is very complex. Their primary obsession is India. For many decades, the tribal areas in the west and north have been left alone. It is a type of agreement that is hard for us to understand. Even harder to understand is that the people in those regions are tightly bound by a common culture rooted in location. The ratio of civilians to militants in these attacks is too high. They are not precise weapons and they disenfranchise people in ways that are hard to predict in the long run. For those who argue that these strikes protect US soldiers, I would sincerely like to know how these weapons accomplish that goal with certainty.
One last thought, I think Pakistan is multi-faceted militarily. They are letting us take care of business in those areas to risk the direct association. Also, the military aid they receive from us is astronomical. It one investigates where most of their spending goes, it is spent on systems for possible retaliation against India. So as Donnal asked earlier, where is Pakistan’s commitment in all this?
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Posted by donnal @ 11:10 AM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
jack, my premise that it protects our military:
It takes out the enemy without our soldiers being ambushed. Attacks from the air take out the risk of stepping on a land mine, day or night.
I don’t like us being there either. I don’t like it that our money has been used to put the country back together when these oil rich nations have money of their own. I do want us to help the people, not the terrorists, regain their country if it means we help train their people; police and military personnel. But it also seems true that as long as the terrorists exist, they will do whatever they can to interfere with that mission, i.e. suicide bombings at recruiting points and even after the military is trained.
I don’t believe it was or is our intent to occupy. We went into these areas to get rid of the training fields and flush out terrorist leaders. These people didn’t just attack us on 911, there were several attacks on American citizens prior to that, that also included our embassies and the USS Cole. Why didn’t we do something with the bully-leader-with-so-much-money-he-has-nothing-to-do-but-play-games-with-people’s-lives and hide in a cave, when we knew where he was and how dangerous his mentality and stability were? He’s still alive and thousands upon thousands of Americans and other innocent people have perished. How much could it have cost compared to how much we have spent? Should we have allowed OBL to believe he could attack without being redressed?
I don’t know that much about the fire power of a drone, but it’s nowhere near that of a bomb. We are trying to minimize collateral damage. I believe we are trying to directly identify and target the enemies.
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Posted by Nancy Manicas @ 1:09 PM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
Drones kill innocent!
Although it may never be known how many civilians have died as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, there are estimates of hundreds or thousands of innocent bystanders who have perished in the attacks. In the New America Foundation paper “Revenge of the Drones,” roughly 252-315 civilians have been killed by Predator and Reaper drone strikes between 2006 and October 2009, but other sources show a much greater number of casualty deaths.
In July 2009, Daniel Byman, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy wrote, “Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.”
Pakistani authorities released statistics earlier in the year indicating that between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, U.S. Predator and Reaper drone strikes have killed over 700 innocent civilians.
The website PakistanBodyCount.Org (by Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, a Fulbright Scholar at the Florida Institute of Technology) shows an overwhelming number of 1065 civilian casualty deaths between June 2004 to January 30, 2010 and tallying 103 drone strikes carried out by the U.S.
With the increase of drone strikes, according to the most recent story in The International News, January 2010 proved to be a deadly month in Pakistan with 123 innocent civilians killed. Even though the public may never know the true count of civilians deaths, as the CIA steps up its Predator and Reaper drone program, the number of civilian casualties in Pakistan will undeniably rise.
In the February 24, 2010 policy analysis released by the New America Foundation “The Year of the Drone” civilian fatality rate since 2004 is approximately 32 percent. The study shows that 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to present killed between 830 to 1210 individuals, of who around 550 to 850 were militants.
For more info: http://www.codepinkalert.org
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Posted by Mitchell B. Sandlin @ 7:27 PM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
Who in the name of Hades would beleive anyrhing on a Code Pink site?
The other is run by a Muslim, We all know they never use disinformation. Muslims use Taqqiya every chance they can and our bleeding hearts just eat it up.
Taqqiya-“Dissimulation as sanctified hypocrisy. It is considered a part of Islamic strategy to lie and deceive unbelievers by any means. Thus exercising of taqqiyah is very pious behavior. Veiling the truth: Adjustment, deception up to the open lie. -Taqqiya is attached, if it is helpful to the well-being of the religion -Islam (Khomeini). Sunnis will deceptively say that is only a Shiites doctrine.”
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Posted by Mitchell B. Sandin @ 7:31 PM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
And another thing. You liberals who sceam about separation of church and state what do you think Islam is. Their Sharia Law says they can accept no other way of life.
There is absolutely no separation of church and state in Sharia Law. Islam is not a religion at all it is a form of government written by a conquering muderous pedophile. The Taliban exactly what Mohammad wanted for the world.
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Posted by dhc @ 8:28 PM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
Don’t you guys know that it is our God given right to kill anyone we like.
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Posted by joe @ 10:35 PM Sat, Apr 10, 2010
dhc, you’re an idiot.
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Posted by Pad @ 1:27 AM Sun, Apr 11, 2010
The question is not whether or not drones kill civilians, the question is whether or not drones kill fewer civilians than a chosen alternative and at what cost to Americans in carrying out the alternative.
Everyone seems to assume that the drone attacks are occurring in a vacuum. But, in reality, if drone attacks are not successful, the U.S. and its allies would not just say “We can’t use drones, so I guess we’ll just let the issue die.”
The decision to use atomic weapons to end WWII is not measured solely by the number of civilian deaths caused but also the number of lives saved as a consequence of those civilian deaths. Most Americans have come to the conclusion that it was reasonable to believe that the number of lives saved (with U.S. soldiers no doubt favoring more importantly than civilains) was worth the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians. There is no doubt that those high within the Japanese power command who would disagree, and many who would sacrfice hundreds of thousands of U.S. lives for the expansion of the Japanese Empire.
I don’t doubt some radicals in Pakistan (or America) would think the loss of one Pakistani (or American) civilian is too many to save even 100 million Americans (or Pakistanis) — but the loss of 100 million Americans (or Pakistanis) was reasonable to save one Pakistani (American).
The end result, those who favor the U.S. goals will believe the risks are necessary while those who disagree with underlying U.S. government policies would disagree.
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Posted by Scott @ 9:40 AM Sun, Apr 11, 2010
Vince makes a good point. Who are these “civilians”? Are we talking about the friends and family of the jihadists that knowingly live in close proximity to these avowed enemies of a aggrieved superpower. I would contend that not all civilians are innocent. It would be one thing if we were using drones to blow up schools and hospitals. It is quite another to kill, unintentionally, people who choose to ride in a car or eat dinner with a known jihadist.
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