Monday, February 8, 2010

An Easy Way to Kill

January 22, 2010
An Easy Way to Kill
By Saeed Qureshi
It’s so easy to kill human beings without getting any one killed from your side. This is the latest technology and it is being operated through the pilotless small sized aircrafts commonly known as Drones. Drone know-how is a closely guarded secret and it is the exclusive preserve of the United States of America. The lethal and destructive power of these unmanned dreaded drones is manifest in the civilian population of the tribal regions on both sides between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Drones are being used to kill the Al-Qaida militants in their hideouts where previously it was almost difficult to trace them. But with the assassination of one suspect, so many other from among the civilian residents are also killed by deadly missiles fired by the Drones from the air. After playing havoc the plane safely returns to its launching location. United States is not worried if civilians including the innocent children, harmless women and debilitated aged men are roasted or burnt to ashes. According to an estimate, as a result of these drone attacks, about 700 civilians have been killed thus far. The peaceful citizens have been vanquished, their houses destroyed and the rest of the community left with the lurking fear of more horrific strikes of similar nature. No one from the civilized world not even the United Nations have questioned the legal or moral justification of these attacks which in simple terms is to be characterized as barbarity.

The Pakistan government has been caught in this war against terrorism willingly or unwillingly and its army is battling in the suspected areas where besides militant Taliban, the high value targets of Al-Qaida hide and launch their counter assaults. The Al-Qaida kills the Americans and the ordinary peaceful people by suicide bombing. The Taliban and Al-Qaida operate brutally while the American and NATO forces do the same job in a much sophisticated manner. The other difference is that in the Drone attacks the reciprocal or collateral damage or casualties on the American side are nonexistent while in Al-Qaida or Taliban’s suicide bombing the perpetrators have also to die.

It was only anti war activist Cindy Sheehan with a group of anti-war activists who protested the covert drone war in Langley, VA on Jan 16, and described the use of unmanned drones "cowardly" and "immoral." She expressed her concern about the military uses of drones and specifically about their use by the CIA in Pakistan.

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a Freedom of Information Act raising questions about the legal basis for targeted killings the US conducts in Pakistan and elsewhere." The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives," said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project.

Unites States is also considering use of Drones in Yemen where according to reports various top notch leaders of Al-Qaida have moved. So it is not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan where Drones are being used but its expansion to other parts of the world would assume a frightening possibility. To be rational, how long the United States would keep hunting the terrorists all over the globe and kill them by Drones attacks? No one can predict with absolute certainty a cutoff date by which the final terrorist would fall and thus the world become safe from further terrorism.

The lunatic tenacity of religious militants as that of al-Qaida and Taliban can be bridled with sagacious strategy that calls for more diplomatic and socio-economic means to prepare the local population against these ferocious religious extremists. This strategy is proving to be successful in Pakistan and in that country’s tribal areas.

One must recall that when United States demanded of Taliban then ruling Kabul, to hand over Osama and his cohorts, the Taliban offered talks and asked for evidence of his involvement in 9/11 event. The then president George Bush spurned their offer and thus a ruinous war was imposed on Afghanistan that has devastated that uniquely beautiful land with millions killed in the meantime. The social, geographic and demographic complexion of Afghanistan has been irreparably shattered. It would take several decades to wash off the paranoid of war and to restore the pristine glory and serene beauty of Afghanistan.

The latest policy shift of Obama administration in dealing with Taliban is the wisest and hugely pragmatic. According to daily News Pakistan, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has unfurled a long-term, non-military strategy to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan that calls for sending more US civilian experts to the region. It aims at boosting Pakistan's capabilities to fight a growing insurgency and to enhance the US partnership with Islamabad partly through supporting political and economic reforms. The Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy was prepared by the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

“The new civilian strategy would focus on rebuilding Afghanistan’s farm sector, improving Afghan governance, and reintegrating extremists into society.” This is indeed a major departure from America’s blanket anti Taliban stance for a decade. Earlier Richard Holbrooke while stating the broad outlines of this policy said that instead of fighting all Taliban, United States would now befriend those among them who would be ready for such friendship. The Afghan president Hamid Karzai declared to involve friendly Taliban in government and elsewhere.

But the US defense secretary who is on a visit to India and Pakistan wants Pakistan to expand military action to North Waziristan as well. It’s too much of a burden being placed on Pakistan, which is not responsible to compensate for the failures of the occupation forces stationed in Afghanistan. This would also lend unbearable blow to Pakistan’s tattered economy.

Nevertheless, it speaks for the fact that where NATO and America failed in their war against the Taliban and Al- Qaida, this impossible feat was made possible by Pakistan. If USA is really earnest in rebuilding Afghanistan and wooing the agreeable Taliban and to garner support and goodwill from the civilian population in the embattled areas, then it should stop forthwith killing the people by Drone aerial attacks.

Saeed Qureshi

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