Drone deaths and dilemmas


 Shumaila Raja
In the United States, the dominated narrative about the use of drone in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool. However, in the light of significant evidence of impacts to own civilians and to US interest, current policies to address terrorism and de-radicalization through drone strike must be carefully re-evaluated. A family of survivors of a drone strike from FATA is currently in the US on an invitation from a US Congressman. The family, who lost an elderly lady and their children suffered injuries in a drone strike, has been invited to tell their story to the American Congress, media and the US public of the losses suffered by the innocent people in these strikes. There is a three-dimension approach on the drone strikes issue; one is the moderate, second is pre-emptive and the third is hard-hitting approach. Using drone missiles and special operation raids, the US government granted the CIA a ‘licence to kill’. President Obama approved not only “personality strikes” (by-name person-specific high-value targets) but also approved “signature strikes” meant to target training camps of the terrorists and shelter compounds of the militants. To a certain point of time and level, the US drone strikes have been considered as a useful strategy for its tactical advantage but the way the drone technology has been used so vehemently, the act of intruding into other countries’ territory while violating their sovereignty has therefore proved to be counterproductive. In Pakistan’s case this has backfired on Pakistan governments being labeled as the American stooge, which has engaged the publics in an endless debate regarding the legality and morality of the drone attacks. Future presidents of the United States – Democrats or Republican – inherit a ‘streamlined’ process of assassinating perceived or real enemies of America. They will inherit executive branch with sweeping powers, rationalized under the banner of national security. There has been a gradual loosening of the standard by which the US selects targets. Its consequences can be seen in the mosques and funeral possessions targeting that usually kills non-combatants. No one knows the number of deaths caused by drones. In 2012 a US constitutional law professor was asked about the US drone and targeted program, who said: “It is very important for the president and the entire culture of our national security team to continually ask tough questions like “Are we doing the right thing? “Do we abide by the rule of law and the due process?’’ He responded ‘warning that it was important for the United States to “avoid any kind of slippery slope into a place, where we’re not being true to who we are.” That former professor was Barak Obama.  More drone attacks will back fire and derail the peace process, affect reforming of ties with Pakistan and the process of handing the Taliban and their affiliates an opportunity to recruit and reassert. Drone strikes cannot help de-radicalize potential recruits, the US public will question its legitimacy. TTP is not considered as the existential threat to US security, nor have they capacity to operate in the US, of course not. Nevertheless, they have the capacity to operate in Pakistan, so that Pakistan may be provided with the latest technology and assistance to target the radicals, as and when required. The journalists, generals and the combat soldiers have a tremendous amount of energy to expose and target terrorists. However, it is the civilian Government and decision makers to say the, the boys, the fight is over. Is life is only the life of the 3000 that died in the trade center and for them family is only those who are situated within the map of USA? In fact US have stepped into a war they have no victory, no control on, because they let their thought controlled by their muscles. For a country that upholds freedom, liberty and justice for the whole world; for a country that holds the highest opportunities to educate its people; and for a country who has waged bloody wars for its slogan of ‘democracy’, for its representative to be void of moral equilibrium and verbal composure; hate mongering from start to finish, is a shame to the name of ‘democracy’ itself.   Pakistan has, for the last ten years, supported a global cause with the lives of thousands of its armed forces and civilians, with logistic support and by enduring US coercive strategy and drone policy to this day; may not consider itself as US ally for assistance in withdrawal from Afghanistan. Following the onset of WOT, Pakistan has launched an offensive against militants in South Waziristan, from 2001.Tountil late 2013, more than 47,000 people and 5,000 soldiers have been killed in suicide and other attacks on civilians. Several dozen of these attacks were carried out against the Pakistan Army. Pakistan Army has indeed come under attack from radicals but are the attacks were launched by terrorists only? Is this, Price of Peace, paid by Pakistan? This is a question, which has received very little attention in Pakistan and US. After each Drone attack, TTP had carried out suicide attacks on security forces and civilians in major and small cities of Pakistan. TTP’s approach is the only goal is to bring an end to the war, which has been waged by US and assisted by Pakistan. It seems TTP has no desires for Shariah, and harbours no hostility towards the United States or Israel, rather, it seeks only to weaken Pakistan and its Army to have control on the area. World has been less mindful of US drone strikes, considering them as precise, precision strikes against ALQ and their affiliates, because, US have been assuring the people that drones have not caused a huge number of civilian causalities. Beyond partisan lens, the policies implemented by Obama administration, will have far reaching consequences.