Recently there has been a lot of debate on the use of drones for bombings in the tribal areas inside the Pakistani territory by the American forces in Afghanistan. I am not much of a scholar and don’t know about the technicalities of the issue but as a Pakistani citizen and a student of political science, I possess some knowledge on the concept of nation state and sovereignty and hence I would like to share my views with you on this topic.
First of all it should be made clear that the American drone attacks in the Pakistani territory are a clear violation of our sovereignty and a strong message from the Americans telling us we can’t handle our problems on our own. Moreover, these drone attacks instead of eradicating terrorism help it spread even further. A drone does not have eyes and it kills many innocent people. In fact, the casualties from the American drone attacks have included mostly women and children rather than extremists. The Taliban get away as they are always on the go. They don’t have a specific hideout which can be targeted. Americans constantly claim they are trying to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of people living in these areas, I ask them, is it by bombing these peoples’ houses and killing their family members that they plan on doing so? Americans drone attacks do nothing but give birth to more extremists. They instill hatred towards America in the local people and help Taliban find new and fresh recruits. I completely understand that with the use of a drone, collateral damage cannot be ruled out. What disturbs me, however, is that Americans do see what’s happening and do nothing about it. They do see innocent people dying but they still keep on bombing our country, our brothers and sisters. I think of this attitude of the American government as ruthless and barbaric. I look at them as the bullies of the world.
Why is it that we only see the media personnel talking about it, why is it that the people who live outside these tribal areas don’t protest and come out on streets to raise their voice against these drone attacks? Are they waiting for the time when Americans attack the places they live in? Are they waiting for them to attack Lahore? Peshawar? Karachi? Quetta? What is our president thinking? Why are we allowing this? We can’t let this happen. Today the Americans have violated our rights as a nation, tomorrow some other country will. We have to realize that the Americans are not part of the solution; they are part of the problem. They were the ones who gave birth to terrorism in that region; their weapons and money were used to create them. We have been pushed in to this war. The supposedly ‘America’s war on terrorism’ is a joke. According to me, it is just an excuse for the Americans to imperialize. In this globalized world, where the geographical boundaries don’t really matter anymore, I think it is in the interests of the Americans for this region to be unstable. This gives them a reason to stay here and expand their military presence thereby establishing a military base in south Asia to ensure they can suppress any one raising his voice against them. This is the extreme form of ruthlessness. The presence of black water (an American agency) agents with unlicensed weapons only adds to this.
What is shocking is to learn that the Pakistani government which publicly condemns these attacks shares secret information with the Americans about the whereabouts of militants in Pakistan. Not just that, they have also allowed the drones to operate from the Shamsi airfield in Pakistan. Let’s look at the statistics of these drone attacks for a moment and I will leave it to you to decide whether justice is being done to the people living in the tribal areas.
In the year 2009, there were 44 missile attacks by the US forces in Pakistan. From these 44 only 5 successfully hit the targets they were intended for. All of the rest led to death of innocent civilians. The total number of casualties of all attacks combined comes up to 709 and over 90 % of these people have been confirmed to be civilians either women or children. This makes the US drone attack success rate of just 0.11%! Given such a low success rate, the US still carries out the drone attacks in Pakistan. Not surprisingly enough, when innocent people will die in these attacks by the Americans, the inclinations of the families of dead ones will shift towards the Taliban and they will take up arms against the US and also Pakistan since we let it happen. We have to take a strong stance on this matter. Sometimes words are not enough and action needs to be done. This is surely one of those times. I want to see any drone violating Pakistani air space to be shot down by the Pakistani army. I want the people of Pakistan to come out and support their innocent brothers in the tribal areas. I want them to sympathize with them for the lost of their loved ones. I want my country’s government to strongly tell the US that any further drone attacks will lead to a similar response from our side.