Drone attacks and US reputation —Farhat Taj

 In terms of the drone attacks, the US must not make any distinction between al Qaeda and the Taliban. They both have internalised a global ideology that is anti-civilisation and anti-human

There is news coming up in the media that al Qaeda in Waziristan may run away to Yemen in the face of growing drone attacks. The people of Waziristan have expressed deep concern at this news. They do not want al Qaeda to run away from Waziristan. They want al Qaeda along with the Taliban burnt to ashes on the soil of Waziristan through relentless drone attacks. The drone attacks, they believe, are the one and only ‘cure’ for these anti-civilisation creatures and the US must robustly administer them the ‘cure’ until their existence is annihilated from the world. The people of Waziristan, including tribal leaders, women and religious people, asked me to convey in categorical terms to the US the following in my column.

One, your new drone attack strategy is brilliant, i.e. one attack closely followed by another. After the first attack the terrorists cordon off the area and none but the terrorists are allowed on the spot. Another attack at that point kills so many of them. Excellent! Keep it up!

Your drone technology has the full capacity to encircle and eliminate al Qaeda and the Taliban in Waziristan. If you fail to do so and al Qaeda manages to run away to Yemen or any other place, it could only happen in two cases: either you are highly incompetent people or you have ulterior motives.

The people who have established one of the world’s most vibrant democracies and have taken science and technology to a new zenith cannot be highly incompetent. Now the only possibility is that you have ulterior motives, which could facilitate al Qaeda’s escape from Waziristan.

In a sense the ISI of Pakistan and the CIA of the US share a sinister reputation: both use fanatic Islamists to promote strategic goals. The Taliban are the strategic assets of the ISI and al Qaeda of the CIA. Terrorised people in FATA believe that the ISI would never eliminate the Taliban for the sake of strategic depth in Afghanistan and countless people across the Muslim world believe that al Qaeda is a CIA invention to trigger chaos in Muslim lands and hence create excuses for the US to control natural resources such as oil and gas in those lands. There is also a perception in FATA and the rest of Pakistan that the US is especially going soft on Islamists from the restive Muslim areas of China. Those Islamists would be used to destabilise China, the emerging rival to the US in world politics.

Here in Waziristan the US has a good opportunity to prove to the Muslim world that it is indeed serious in eliminating al Qaeda. The escape of al Qaeda from Waziristan to Yemen or any other Muslim country would communicate the message that the US is an imperial power that just ‘relocates’ its strategic assets from one Muslim society to another only to destabilise them and hence paves the way for US military intervention in those areas.

In terms of the drone attacks, the US must not make any distinction between al Qaeda and the Taliban. They both have internalised a global ideology that is anti-civilisation and anti-human. They will keep coming back to strike at civilisations — Islamic, Western, Confucian or Indian. The sooner the world gets rid of them the better.

This was the view of the people of Waziristan. I would now draw the attention of the US to the Peshawar Declaration, a joint statement of political parties, civil society organisations, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, labourers and intellectuals, following a conference on December 12-13, 2009, in Peshawar. The declaration notes that if the people of the war-affected areas are satisfied with any counter-militancy strategy; it is drone attacks that they support the most. Some people in Waziristan compare drones with the Quran’s Ababeels — the holy sparrows sent by God to avenge Abraham, the intended conqueror of the Khana Kaaba. Which other Muslim society has likened anything from the US military with a Quranic symbol? Only the Pakhtuns did that so publicly in this time of rising anti-Americanism across the Muslim world! What more does the US want from a Muslim society? Now please go ahead and do the needful as indicated by the people of Waziristan.

The overpowered people of Waziristan are angry. They believe no one in their entire history has inflicted so much insult on them as al Qaeda. In our native land, they say, al Qaeda has killed so many of us. Anyone in the world who has gone mad in the name of religion has come to occupy our land. They are Arabs, Central Asians, Caucasians and Africans. They are people with black, brown, blue and green eyes. They are brown, black and white. They all have chosen our land for their sinister designs against all civilisations. No self-respecting people, they argue, can accept this situation.

The ball is now in the US’s court. Their action or inaction against the terrorists in Waziristan would either confirm their image in the Muslim world as an imperial power destabilising Muslim societies in the name of the war on terror or would challenge that image, at least in FATA and the NWFP, the Muslim society on the frontline of the war on terror. The people of Waziristan hope the US challenges that image through the elimination of all terrorists — al Qaeda or the Taliban — in Waziristan.

Source: Daily Times, 06 Feb 2010


Filed under Al Qaeda, FATA, Islam, Islamism, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Peshawar, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, war, War On Terror

37 responses to “Drone attacks and US reputation —Farhat Taj

  1. Mustafa Shaban

    This is a very messed up analysis of Waziristan, drone attacks are extremely unpopular, and quoting the pentagon and Pak Government, drone attacks have killed 700 innocent men women and children and only 14 Al Qaeda. Also the Taliban and Al Qaeda are completely different with different ideology. Are you telling me that the people who see thiier men, women and children blown up by drones support drone attacks?? Ofcourse they also see their families torn apart by the TTP but that is why they support Pakistan Army because they effectively target the TTP unlike the drones which are ineffective. The reason why the TTP is being defeated is due to the military not because of drones. This article dusnt make sense.

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  3. No doubt you are right.Point is which hue of Pakistani spectrum are you representing?We do not know the views one should take note of,Civilian Government,Army, within the army Gini or others,ISI,Nawaz Sharief or Gilani?.
    For some of these gentlemen Al Qeda/Taliban doesn’t exist;even if it does it is not in Pakistan.Pakistan media cries foul when Drone attacks.
    Well meaning people of Pakistan must get rid of the confusion, usher in real Democracy and speak in one voice;only then world can take action.

  4. Mustafa Shaban

    I am representing the voice of the majority of Pakistani people, also i am in support of pakistani nationalism, people like Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Quraishi, Imran Khan etc.

  5. Tilsim

    Frankly, it’s true that many many Pakistanis are in denial about this monster that’s in our midsts. However I can imagine that people living in Waziristan may be by now fed up with these animals and not as deluded as the rest of the country about the Taliban/ Al qaeda. They are suffering tremendously. I think such action against the Taliban/ Al qaeda is justified as long as civilian casualties are absolutely minimized. These brutes have opened the gates of hell for Pakistan and Afghanistan, not NATO etc. We love our conspiracy theories but we should reconnect with our conscience and face this evil. Pakistan army is doing a great job against these creeps. I hope it does not revert to past policies.

  6. Mustafa Shaban

    @Tilism: Since when did people who suspect foreign influence not also accept our own mistakes as a nation and the rightist influence in our nation? Tell me one person who believes in conspiracies but does not beleive also that it is our fault and that there are extreme fundamentalists in Pakistan who misguide some people?

  7. Mustafa Shaban

    I like many other support Army action against the militants and that they should be brought to justice for kiling our women and children. Tell me the name of one Pakistani analyst or politician who thinks that the TTP are doing the right thing?

  8. hoss

    “One, your new drone attack strategy is brilliant, i.e. one attack closely followed by another.”

    “The Taliban are the strategic assets of the ISI and al Qaeda of the CIA.”

    After writing one better article, Ms. Taj is unhinged now. She supports the drone attacks but also calls Al Qaeda CIA assets. So the US is killing its own assets in Waziristan. Way to go!

    There is really nothing more to comment on this article.

  9. Mustafa Shaban

    @hoss: Lolz nice hit man…i shouldve seen that. Nice one.

  10. Junaid

    Some people in Waziristan compare drones with the Quran’s Ababeels — the holy sparrows sent by God to avenge Abraham, the intended conqueror of the Khana Kaaba.


    The word ababeel does not mean sparrows yet alone holy sparrows.

  11. Midfield Dynamo

    In the present day scenario it is preposterous to term alqaeda and taliban as assets of the CIA / ISI, both would want to be relieved of their prodigies sooner rather than later. It would be a long shot to imagine their employment in China or India or for that matter in the CAS.

  12. Atul

    Looks like someone lighted a fire beneath your you-know-what. At least there is one person who is speaking what should be obvious to any sensible person. How can one not support drone attacks that take care of cretins like Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Sovereignty be damned. You should be thankful that US is taking care of your dirty business. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  13. stuka

    ““The Taliban are the strategic assets of the ISI and al Qaeda of the CIA.”

    She is saying that some have that perception – she is not stating this as fact. Other than that, this article is true. You have fraud Pathans like Imran Khan who have never lived amongst the tribes claiming to be spokes-persons for Pathans?

    Those who have never lived under Taliban but have only helped export Taliban have no right to dictate policy to others.

    Also, this Sardar Khan is a liar when he says that Taliban were created by CIA.

  14. Mustafa Shaban

    @Atul: I would be thanking the US if the drones killed more Al Qaeda then they did people. But instead 700 innocent men women and children die and only 14 Al Qaeda get killed, to get rid of all the Al Qaeda at this ratio you would probably end up killing most of the population. The Pak Army kills a million times more Al Qeada and TTP and kills a hundred times less civilians. So thanks but we know how to clean up our house. And speaking of militancy, I dont think you are having much succes with your Maoist insurgency that is growing, not to mention a 100 other militias in India.

    Nobody including the US feeds us, they impose thier will on us and we do not like that, we are capable of feeding ourselves, all we need to do is get rid of this parasatic elite that sits on top of Pakistan which we will very soon.

    @stuka: Imran Khan has lived among the Pathans and in the Tribal Areas PTI is the second most popular party. He is not only voice of Pathans but he is the voice of the nation.

    ”Those who have never lived under Taliban but have only helped export Taliban have no right to dictate policy to others.”

    Who are you referring to here?

  15. hoss

    Mustafa Shaban
    “Who are you referring to here?”

    His own hiney really!

    IK is popular in Tribal areas and parts of NWFP and I think he would give both ANP and PPP run for their money in NWFP, if elections are held in near future.

    Atul is just a troll so don’t try and throw some stats at him, you can never convince him.

    Drones are part of the overall strategy by the US and Pakistan, they are as successful or unsuccessful as other military
    strategies are in the area.
    Right now the thing to watch is the US offensive in Helmond and near Kandahar.
    The US success would largely determine who would have the upper hand in the future negotiations.

  16. Shahab Riazi

    I think it is easier for the both of us to opine since we are not living the situation but the fact is that the drone attacks are not considered effective by the people on the ground. If they were killing Al-Qaeda or Taliban or extremists, whatever their names may be, there would be on the ground support for them but that is not the case. If that were the case, I can assure you, that the Pakistani govt would be the first to take credit for allowing the American govt to take this action. By the way, if its dirty business, it does not solely belong on Pakistan’s plate. Everyone in the region as well as the US is responsible for the mess that this region is in at this point.


    Even if you choose not to believe that Taliban were created by the US, which is your right, since there is evidence of that both ways, the fact is that the US and Saudia were the first two countries to recognize Taliban in Afghanistan. So, even if they were not present at the baby’s birth, they were more than happy to become Godfathers’ later on. I am not trying to diminish Pakistan’s responsibility however, we must realize that we are giving too much credit to Pakistan when it comes to Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This is a problem created by world powers to manage their tactical goals against one another and Pakistan, thinking that they can get something out of it for themselves, played along in some ways and played more actively in others.
    Imran Khan may not have lived among the tribes but atleast he is living in Pakistan and among the people. I give him due credit for that. He has not said anything that has not been agreed to by the Generals in the US military recently and he has been saying that for the past 4 years.

    Lastly, its great to have a discussion on this with all the folks here. I appreciate the comments and the thought behind it by everyone. Also, I am sure all of us remember the innocent who died in Pakistan in all kinds of suicide, drone and bomb attacks. They are paying the price for the follies of their leadership, a good part of which was not accountable to them directly (Musharaf).

  17. Gorki

    Shahab Riazi

    “…the fact is that the US and Saudia were the first two countries to recognize Taliban in Afghanistan.”

    Actually the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under the Taliban (1996-2001) was recognised by only three governments during its brief tenure.
    These were the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
    The United States never recognised the Taliban government, ever.


  18. stuka

    1. I am connecting Taliban to Pakistan, not Al Qaeda. I have never stated that Pakistan was sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

    2. Imran Khan is from Mianwali. He has no tribal following – only an urban following. His party gets even less votes than Jamaatis. After listening to his jokes about the looks of MQM leaders, he is probably the voice of only fair skinned Pakistanis.

    3. The US never recognized Taliban – only Saudi, UAE and Pakistan did.

  19. Sadia Hussain

    The effectiveness of drone attacks in eliminating high-profile targets cannot be ignored. The dilemma with such incidents is that there is no credible proof to verify civilian casualties and in many cases the area is cordoned off by the Taliban. The tribal’s have no lost love for Taliban or their supporters as they have lost their homes forced to be migrants in their own country because of these elements. From my standpoint Farhat Taj maybe painting an excessive picture but there is remorse for such fanatics

  20. Mustafa Shaban

    @Shahab: I agree with most of what you have said, and also appreciate your posotive approach. I disagree on the point of Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban are both different. I agree the Afghan Taliban are horrible with domestic issues and stuff, but on a geopolitical level, they are an important front, as of now I beleive that foriegn powers are using Afghan soil to destabalize Pakistan, something which the Afghan Taliban did not allow. I am not saying I like them , its just that for Pakistan its good if we have either a neutral government or pro Pakistan government.

    @stuka: I understand that IK got only 1% vote in 2002. Now it is 2010, since then:

    1. We have a free media
    2. He has a much larger opportunity to put forth his point of view.
    3. He is a hundred times more popular now then he was back then.
    4. I am placing a friendly bet with my fellow Pak Tea House members, that IK will not win national elections but he will be in the top 4 most popular parties. Lets see what happens during the national elections, and the elections that take within the nation.
    5. Most of what he has said is agreed by British and American military and politicians.

    It is true that US did not recognize the Taliban but they did have dealings and at some points good relations before 2001.

    @Sadia: Tell me one person who thinks the TTP are doing the right thing? Tell me one person who believes that they should not be brought to justice, and please quote them. Thanks.

  21. Tilsim

    @Mustafa Shaban

    The likes of the Jamaat, JUI, IK etc have hardly raised their voice against the Taliban. However they shout out loud from the roof tops against the West and the Western alliance aspect of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Even the world’s aid to NA earthquake victims was a source of suspicion and anger. I don’t think it’s a secret that these political forces harbour sympathy and overtly and covertly cooperate with anyone who claims to lift the banner of Jihadi Islam (whatever their methods). They have a particular vision and plan for Pakistan and the Taliban’s fight with the US and destabilisation of the Pakistani State is helping their cause. One does n’t need specific quotes to assess the situation (although I am sure there are plenty for those who care to research).

  22. Mustafa Shaban

    @Tilism: IK is very different from JI, though some points they may meet. But IK is mostly liberal, and almost all the time he has condemned the TTP for thier terrorists action and he has his own strategy for combating it. He also condemns western foreign policy.

    Interestingly I am not a communist but there is a communist organization in the US, called the Revolutionary Communist Party of USA. They say that US Imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism are two opposing forces that are fighting each other. But at the same time they support each other. If you dont have Bush, then you dont have Bin Laden and if you dont have Bin Laden then you dont have Bush. Not literally but you get the idea. They claim that the Islamic world and the world in general is getting squashed in between religious fundamentalism and western imperialism, politically and culturally.

    This is there website. (without spaces) www. r w o r. o r g

  23. Mustafa Shaban

    I dont completely agree but I think its a strong point of view and that the right path is the middle path, not to one extreme or the other.

    It is true to a certain extent that one exists as a justification against the other. We should support people who condemn both and not just one of them.

  24. Atul

    If you read other articles by Farhat Taj, she contends this claim too, of 700 or so people killed in drone attacks. She says that its all nonsense, propagated by self-serving idiots like Imran Khan. IK reminds me of the famous phrase, or whatever you want to call it that “nau sau chuhe kha ke billi haj ko chali”. After having all the fun in his younger days when he was reputed to **** any one on two legs, he has donned this pious and moralistic garb and spewing unadulterated nonsense. No wonder his wife left him.

  25. Tilsim


    Jamaat and IK may indeed have their differences but I don’t find IK’s ideas “mostly liberal”. In fact I find him always enamoured with and justifying a Pakhtun political and societal culture frozen in time. I also find his narrative against the West, very fixed. He should understand the nuances, both positive and negative on Pakistan much better than he cares to admit because his political constituency is knee-jerk anti-West. As such, I find that he is on the same side as the Jamaat and helping out with their very parochial national agenda. He could have played a role to bridge differences but he chose not to. These right wing forces get way too much air time and influence. This is because they enjoy a level of support in the army, media and in academia – however they have been rejected by Pakistanis in elections repeatedly.

  26. Mustafa Shaban

    @Atul: Those figures (700 civilians) were not given by IK, those figures were given by the Pentagon and Pak government. Farhat Taj doesnt know anything about journalism, honestly, all her articles dont make sense, she is a terrible writer. You dont know anything about him.

    @Tilism: Can you please elaborate on your point with examples? I dont know how taking things from Britian, Mahathir Mohammed and the Khilafat E Rashida and other places is not liberal and very pakhtun. All his ideas come from history and from successful models. The only reason why you would have such an opinion, is because of his stance on military operations, otherwise I dont see how you reached such a conclusion.

    And your description of IK is shameful and your claims about him hold no merit. You are just a person who has absorbed anti IK propoganda people change.

  27. Mustafa Shaban

    My apologies, the IK thing is directed towards Atul and not Tilism.

  28. Guest

    Mustafa Shaban says:
    February 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm
    I am representing the voice of the majority of Pakistani people, also i am in support of pakistani nationalism, people like Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Quraishi, Imran Khan etc.


  29. Loudnclear

    ” Tell me one person who believes in conspiracies …… ”

    we could start from you, and go from there!!!

  30. Mustafa Shaban

    @Loudnclear: your point is?? What I said is name me one who believes in foriegn involvement but does not also condemn the takfiri ideology in Pakistan. Not one person. It makes complete sense

  31. Atul

    Pentagon never gave those figures. It was floated by some quasi-research organizations. As for Pak Govt’s word, well, I wonder if the Pakistanis themselves believe it. After years of denying links with Taliban et al, Kayani has come out with a proposal to mediate a deal between US and Haqqani. Wow! In a civilized society, that would be termed as a blackmail. But, then, it’s hard to talk about norms of a civilized society with someone who claims Zaid Hamid, IK, Hamid Gul as their heroes. You guys don’t need aid. You need a mental asylum.

  32. Atul

    The previous post was addressed to Mustafa.

  33. Guest

    Mustapha Shaban refers to some sort of revolutionary Communist party that is so respected and influential it even has a Web site. Hilarious. This “group,” which no one besides MS would refer to as a reliable or legitimate source, probably consists of a kid in underpants sitting in a dorm room who just read Das Kapital in a history class and set up a web site or three aging hippies.

  34. Sadia Hussain

    Quote “I am representing the voice of the majority of Pakistani people; also i am in support of pakistani nationalism, people like Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Quraishi, Imran Khan etc.”

    @ Mustafa! I think you have answered the question yourself! Add the name of Shireen Mazari and there you have the list of Taliban apologists! All of them have either overtly or covertly supported the Taliban!

  35. Mustafa Shaban

    @Guest: First of all it would be nice to know your name, second of all this party has millions of followers and has staged huge talks and protests all over the US, you wouldnt hear much about it in the mainstream media though, also I dont support thier views, I just think they point out a few good things.

    Not that I care whether you believe me or not, but I am just clarifying my point.

    @Sadia: How so? Financially?? By endorsing thier actions? By endorsing thier ideology? By excusing the Takfiri ideology? How so? Please elaborate.

  36. Mustafa Shaban

    Also here are the articles officially posting these figures:




    These numbers are credible.
    @Atul: If not the Pak government, then who will give the right figures? If these figures were not true, then why would the Pak government lie?

  37. Shahab Riazi

    I went back and looked this up. The US govt in May of 2001 announced their support for Taliban initiatives in Afghanistan for law and order and for cutting back on drug trade. Colin Powell had some very kind words about the Taliban at the time. I will concede that I was wrong about the official acceptance of the Taliban however from the US.

    Also, my central point remains that the situation on the ground is not the responsibility of Pakistan by itself. The responsibility of the mess that it is has to be shared by everyone including Saudia, US, Russia and Iran. I don’t see anyone stepping up to the plate to share responsibility of the situation and contributing towards a solution. All I see are criticism of Pakistani State and the Pakistani people for supporting one thing over the other. There is a fine point here. I am not denying Pakistan’s responsibility, only saying that this responsibility of the situation and a future solution has to be shared.
    Ofcoarse, we are going off on a tangent here. I think the topic was drone attacks and its effectiveness. That question still remains. If you look up drone attacks in Pakistan, there is actually a timeline available with the number of people killed and the names of the terrorists who were also killed or have been presumed dead after the attack. One look at that list tells me that there are more unknown casualties than there are named casualties. What I fail to understand is if there is a great deal of local support, then how come these dead remain unnamed. I mean, there must be a way for the locals to identify the dead after the drone strike is finished. Are the locals not allowed or is the area that is struck cordoned off immediately following the strike.
    On Imran Khan, I would simply say this: He is a nationalist who should realize that his words are getting to a global audience. I understand the need to appeal to the people who are going to vote for him and it probably won’t be the people on this forum but he needs to temper his rhetoric, unless he wants to become a crazed politician appealing only to an audience of his constituents, with the understanding that while there is no doubt that he loves Pakistan and her people in anyone’s mind, his rhetoric undermines his capability to lead in the eyes of the people outside of Pakistan and outside of his constituency. He has to balance his rhetoric by calling on the people of Pakistan to become more responsible and to move away from the extremist and provocative idealogues who spout nothing but hate, and yes, I am thinking of Zaid Hamid and his ilk.