Drones: As Imran gives impassioned speech to National Assembly, Taliban threaten “an eye for an eye” in retaliation for US drone strikes

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“First published on personal blog, 4th November 2013)

“An eye for an eye” 

The latest drone strike which killed Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) at his compound in Waziristan shows once again that the most dominant policy of the US government is to export death and destruction and kill hopes of peace in Pakistan.

Sadly too many politicians have raked in the dollars and alongside the military qualify for a CIA loyalty card as some put personal interests above that of ordinary Pakistanis who are tired of the ongoing internal conflict. The loyalty card would go something like this, every drone mile is equivalent to 100 Air Miles, the more time you spend grovelling on your knees, the more points you gain, every drop of blood spilled equals a dollar paid.

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The US government clearly have no regard for peace and speak with forked tongue. During Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to Pakistan which included meetings with President Obama and John Kerry, they claimed to support dialogue (as voted for by the All Parties Conference, APC in September) made up of ruling and opposition parties. Sharif called for an end to drone strikes during his trip but targeted killing continued as usual.

As Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik –e-Insaf (PTI) party stated, “US itself is holding peace talks, when we try to hold talks, a missile strike is carried out”. He added, “US could have killed Hakimullah Mehsud anytime. Why choose such a crucial time when peace talks were almost initiated?”

The US government might as well enroll as PR team for the Taliban right now as every time a missile strikes it creates a new interest in TTP. Some that weren’t in support of the Taliban previously, now view Hakimullah as a “shaheed” (martyr) and post their condolences on social media, sharing his image below…

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Fazlur Rehman, of political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) argued that,“the drone attack has now changed the situation, which is why we need a new APC to review the situation. We were trying to get Pakistan out of crisis but the drone attack has increased instability,”

There were also efforts behind the scenes to work on finding a solution to tackling the growing cases of polio in Waziristan and ongoing discussions with the Taliban for safe access for workers… that has now been scuppered by America.

A poll running in the Express Tribune today asked readers the following question,

Do you support the resolution against drone strikes?

71% (612) voted yes

29% (255) voted no

Total voters 867

There were strong opposing views from others including Raza Rumi, writer and a public policy specialist based in Pakistan, affiliated with Jinnah Institute. He is due to appear on PTV News this evening discussing drones and had this to say on Twitter, “drum up anti-Americanism and forget that 800,000 Pakistanis live there and send remittances. US is a big investor in Pakistan, 60% military aid.”

Referring to death of Hakimullah he said that he had “never heard Jamaat e Islami (political party) call our 8000 state security personnel shaheed? But the head of a killer mafia is a martyr.”

Shireen M Mazari, Central Information Secretary, PTI was quick to respond to an attack made by journalist and editor Najam Sethi on the front page of The News ( 3 November) who argued that stopping NATO supplies would be “a kind of rebellion. She said it was a “deliberate attempt to mislead readers.” In an extract from her Letter to the Editor: Sethi’s erroneous proclamations she writes:

The Peshawar High Court judgement on drones of April 2013, on writ petition Writ Petition No. 1551-P/2012 inter alia held that:

“ That the drone strikes, carried out in the tribal areas (FATA) particularly North & South Waziristan by the CIA & US Authorities, are blatant violation of Basic Human Rights and are against the UN Charter … the provision of Geneva Conventions thus, it is held to be a War Crime, cognizable by the International Court of Justice…”

In the same judgement, the PHC held that in case the US does not stop the drone attacks, then the government of Pakistan “shall sever all ties with the USA and as a mark of protest shall deny all logistic & other facilities to the USA within Pakistan.” Hence the action being contemplated by the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government is most certainly not a rebellion of any sort.

http://www.insaf.pk/News/tabid/60/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/17532/Letter-to-the-Editor-Sethis-erroneous-proclamations-3-November-2013.aspx

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Imran Khan addressed the National Assembly (Monday) and made the following salient points

Gen Musharraf betrayed the nation & instead of protecting Pakistan’s interest, he protected US interest and engaged in someone else’s war

I feel Nawaz Sharif failed to articulately convey Pakistan’s point of view to Obama in his recent US visit

Nawaz Sharif should have carried a one point agenda for his US visit which should have been that Drones must be halted while we are into peace talks.

My heart is filled with anger against this drone strike. It’s not about Hakimullah but peace talks and future of Pakistan.

At the same time I feel ashamed as a Pakistani on how US perceives and treats us? Worse than slaves! It’s we (Pakistani’s) suffering

After the latest drone attack, there shouldn’t be any doubt on who’s war it is and who wants more war/militancy & an unstable Pakistan?

This is not our war but of US and we must not be their slaves. Nation must unite & tell US to stop drones.

I’m willing to reach out to all political stakeholders to unite them against US Drones – This is a defining moment for Pakistan

I never say that we should wage a war against US. War & Slavery, there is always a middle ground- Pakistan should adopt that!

I have serious political differences with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman – But I’m even willing to go out to him for Pakistan’s interest!

Lastly, I would just inform the house that KPK assembly has passed a resolution to block Nato Supplies if Drones don’t stop.

We will wait for Muharram proceedings to end peacefully Inshallah – After that,on the 20th of November we will block Nato Supplies

Taliban

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It now seems that for the time being at least, talks are off. The latest information coming out in a statement from TTP jihadi network is as follows:-

-An “eye for an eye”, TTP calls for revenge for drone strikes

– Asmatullah Shaheen is posted as caretaker TTP head

– TTP chief to be announced in a few days time

– TTP rejects various media reports as baseless. Media is accused of lying and airing fabricated reports about the new leader and rifts within the TTP

– Pakistan army accused of taking the $5 million reward money (bounty for Hakimullah Mehsud) and accused of being equally responsible as US

(Thanks H A for translation)

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There are growing calls from Pakistanis to follow in the footsteps of Iran and Gaza and shot down the drones. It is believed that Pakistan army have proven they have the capabilities to do so in a training exercise. Frankly if I were Pakistani, alongside blocking the NATO supply line, I would be calling on the government to close the US embassy, expel diplomats and stop US aid. As for John Kerry phoning up with some lame excuse for why US likes annihilating people, I would be hanging up the phone.

It is time for Pakistan to fly the nest, be independent and work on internal divisions. A clear message is in order to America and time to wake up to the fact that Pakistan can never truly develop under the ever darkening shadow and control of the US…

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

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