Romney or Obama: Pakistan
Leaders will Pay Price for Continued U.S. Drone Attacks (The Frontier Post,
few high-value militants have been killed, while innocent civilians are mowed
down. On the basis of objective surveys human rights groups have carried out, this
tragic loss is intolerable and colossal. ... if leaders across Pakistan's political
spectrum are not colluding in this adventurism, how is it that the drones are
able to conduct their attacks without ever being intercepted or challenged?"
What is the impact of the public's anti-drone marches and protestations by
the ruling establishment? There has been no letup whatever in U.S. drone
attacks on our tribal areas. Just days ago, North Waziristan Agency was struck
again, killing three people and wounding many more. Neither is there is any foreseeable
possibility of an end to CIA drone adventurism in Pakistan, even if Republican
presidential challenger Mitt Romney makes it to the White House.
In Monday’s foreign policy debate with President Barack
Obama, Romney made it unambiguously clear that he would continue the incumbent’s
policy of drone incursions. Indeed, given the CIA’s reported plans to beef
up its drone fleet, there is every chance that in the coming years, these
assaults on our territory would be stepped up, not slowed down.
It would be unwise for Islamabad leaders not to
be fully aware of the dire repercussions U.S. drone adventurism hold for Pakistan's
national cohesion and solidarity. Although the American warlords persist with
the fabrication of saying that they only kill militants and that the collateral
damage is minimal, the global human rights community continues to issue shrill warnings
of the falseness of such claims.
Only a few high-value militants have been killed, while innocent
civilians are mowed down. On the basis of objective surveys human rights groups
have carried out, this tragic loss is intolerable and colossal. And it is not
just rights workers at the U.N. who have joined in the outcry. Even American
university researchers have spoken up. And their conclusions are indeed devastating:
compared to a handful of high-value militants, twice as many civilians are
killed in these drone strikes.
The establishment in Islamabad should not underestimate the
dire impact of this civilian holocaust on our national solidarity, particularly
when the general impression, which is not wrong, is that our leaders, across
the political spectrum, are very much aboard with this American adventurism. For
one thing, it is not just people in the tribal areas who are convinced that the
noises against drone incursions emitted by our civilian and military leaders are
for public consumption only, but the rest of the country as well.
And it wasn't only the revelation of U.S. diplomatic cables by
WikiLeaks or official leaks in the American media that convinced them of this. The
freedom to operate in our airspace that drones enjoy to carry out their
assaults are just as responsible. The common reasoning goes like this: if leaders
across the political spectrum are not colluding in this adventurism, how is it
that the drones are able to conduct their attacks without ever being intercepted
or challenged? These convictions have been further reinforced voices often
heard in our military that our air force lacks the capacity to shoot down the
intruding drones, and that even if it was to try, consent from the political
leadership would be needed to do so.
Second, no one in the establishment should live under the
illusion that the killing of our civilians comes without consequences. Under
the contrary, they will be severe. Not only the aggrieved families feel the pain
of the loss of life and limb on the part of their loved ones. All Pakistanis are
outraged at this holocaust. If people in the establishment are under the impression
that such outrage is directed exclusively at the Americans, they are badly
mistaken. It is just as directed against the Pakistani state and greatly
endangers our national solidarity and integrity.
If anyone in Islamabad's halls of decision making wishes to
het an inkling of the truth of this, they need only to observe hostility with
which residents of North Waziristan react to even a mention that our military
is preparing to launch an operation in the agency. They have even gotten to the
point of threatening to migrate to Afghanistan en masse to seek Afghan
government support for coping with such an eventuality. And this is the tribal
agency in which residents bear the brunt of U.S. drone adventurism, living
under constant fear of America's murderous incursions. Given this, the level of
the outrage against the Pakistani state can be well imagined.
The establishment had better think long and hard about how
to dissuade America's warlords from continuing this drone adventurism and
explore viable alternatives for decimating terrorists who pose no less an
existential threat to us.