(First published on personal blog November 22nd 2013)
“Every American missile launched creates newly radicalized youth ready to take a step nearer to strapping on a suicide vest”
Drone Attacks on Pakistan and Yemen
As an independent campaigner on global health/human rights, I strongly condemn the latest drones strikes on Pakistan and Yemen and states that endorse drone terrorism and create new insurgents as a result of targeted killing programmes.
Several missiles were launched at a seminary yesterday near Tandharo village close to Tehsil Tal’s main Tal bazaar in Hangu District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killing eight people including teachers. This comes swiftly after a drone strike took the lives of three men travelling in a vehicle in the Wadi Houaira area of Hadramawt province, Yemen.
Drone strikes in Pakistan have mainly focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) seen as the stronghold of militant groups. As Chris Wood who has investigated drone strikes with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism stated, “today’s reported US drone strike on a seminary in Hangu, KPK is only the third outside FATA ever recorded (9 yrs, 376 strikes) http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-127221-US-drone-strike-kills-five,-injures-8-in-Tal …
US drone strikes are indicative of imperialist and racist policy, you don’t see Obama droning “alleged” insurgents that reside in American cities, only Muslims thousands of miles away, because their ‘collateral damage’ which often includes civilians does not count.
The Nawaz Sharif government has “strongly condemned” the latest strike but although it has the power to take action does not appear to want to move into the next stage of actually blocking US drones. Rehman Anwar, interfaith and peace activist working between London and Lahore described the latest strike as “another slap in the face of Nawaz Sharif government who should have taken a zero tolerance policy on drones issue.”
Earlier this week, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz was keen to reassure people that the US would not carry out any drone strikes in Pakistan during any peace talks with Taliban militants in the future. This must surely be a joke in very bad taste. The US is clearly out to sabotage any efforts for peace knowing full well that every drone strike pushes insurgents further away from the negotiating table and instead towards retaliation attacks. Every American missile launched creates newly radicalized youth ready to take a step nearer to strapping on a suicide vest.
According to NBC News today, Pakistani officials declared five Taliban commanders had been killed in the latest strike including the Haqqani network’s “number 2” Maulvi Ahmad JanOther alleged dead were named as Maulana Ghazi Marjan, Maulana Hameedullah, Maulana Abdur Rahman and Maulana Abdullah.
This is a statement from former spokesperson for Pakistan Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) on drone strikes:-
1. Pakistani people know that drones are happening over many years in Tribal Areas.
2. These drones kill innocent people in tribes.
3. Pakistani government has adopted a policy of betrayal on this issue.
4. On one side in media they (government) call drones bad and on other side they give permission for drones
5. This Pakistani government is a slave government
6. People must raise up against this government to save their country
7. We want to inform enemy that in the end they will lose.
Who will be next on the US hit list…will it be politicians trying for dialogue with the Taliban, journalists writing on insurgency?
What happens if US drones start hitting “alleged insurgents” in main cities in Pakistan for example… will government remain inactive?
US has its own alleged insurgents, extremists of all faiths on US soil, yet Obama’s “kill list” is focused only on those OUTSIDE its own territory and against those residing in Muslim countries. Why the double standards? The reason being that drones strikes hitting “alleged” insurgents and “suspected” terrorists in the heart of New York would be totally unacceptable to the American people…
No US accountability for naming the dead
Despite calls from anti-drone activists to name every drone victim, combatant and non-combatant, Reuters reported that, “the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee rejected a proposal on Thursday that would have required U.S. spy agencies to make an annual public accounting of the number of casualties caused by U.S. drone attacks on militants overseas”
Dr Shireen Mazari, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was quick to issue a press statement following the Hangu strike saying drone strikes were “a declaration of war against the people of Pakistan by the US”. She demanded to know whether the Pakistan government and military were sleeping while Pakistan was being attacked or were they complicit in this latest drone attack? Mazari declared that “the time had come for the Pakistan government to demonstrate through actions that there is zero tolerance for drone attacks amongst the people and political leadership of Pakistan – a consensus reflected in the APC resolution.”
PTI Anti -Drone Protest
PTI are preparing to protest in Peshawar on 23rd November supported by anti-drone protestors in the UK who will march from Downing Street to the US Embassy.
Chairman of PTI Imran Khan stated the following from his Twitter account:-
Unacceptable US drone attack in Hangu, KP, simply on assumption of possible future terrorism. 4 innocent children, 2 teachers killed.
The drone killings will once again create more militants and extremists vowing revenge for the killings of Hangu. Why is Nawaz govt silent?
The KP govt will identify and give out the names of the Hangu drone victims to expose the lie of drones killing only “militants”.
Later Khan spoke at a televised press conference saying that he would announce at the protest on Saturday that he and supporters would permanently block the NATO supply route until drone attacks are stopped. He said, “if it’s in our hands, we will block it today. Our powers are that we can tell them that NATO supplies can’t pass through our province.”
Dr Arif Alvi also PTI tweeted, “Hangu Drone Strike in KP is a further escalation into Pakistan territory. Weak kneed leadership will enslave us. We beggars cant stand up. Shameful.”
Drones radicalize young people
The recent drone killing of Hakimullah Mehsud who was Emir (leader) of Pakistan Tehrik – e-Taliban (TTP) has served to drive more youth to embrace insurgency where they will be welcomed joyously by those ready to train the latest recruits. The recruitment is not limited to males. I was told recently by TTP that women are also active and do far more than just traditional cooking.
The US should keep in mind that although political parties will peacefully protest and block the NATO supply line every drone strikes bring further fury from TTP who have their own solution which is blowing up tankers on the route as this video from 2010 demonstrates https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JoXHflbAN0
A community leader from Tribal Areas who is afraid to be identified and spoke on condition of anonymity told of the aftermath of the drone strike on Hakimullah stating the following,
“you know more then one million kids of our land are out of schools from last ten years…and you know well what will be their future and they are vulnerable to militancy. I know personally, I know many children under teen age, they are the joining militants group.”
Faisel bin Ali Jaber, 55, a Yemeni government engineer recently travelled to America seeking U.S. government compensation for his village and warned of increasing radicalization with every drone attack. He described the missile strike on his community as being akin to “a mountain falling on us” and seeing legs, arms and a head strewn on the ground. He conveyed his message to members of Congress;
“the attack had only made al Qaeda ‘more popular’ and that young people in his village were ‘infused with anger’ including two local teenagers who left to join the terrorist group, never to be heard from again”…… “they would join al Qaeda or any other group that would be able to get them revenge”
Read Jaber’s full story can be read on NBC News Investigations, link http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/20/21553062-yemeni-tells-white-house-of-us-drone-strike-that-he-says-killed-innocent-kin
I spoke to Ihsan Waziri, a business development representative born in Birt, Wana, South Waziristan who has recently returned from visiting family and friends in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, this is what he had to say about radicalization;
“The U.S and their Allies cannot eliminate the Taliban with drone strikes and what I know is that in one drone strike they kill at least 15 people but more then 50 join Taliban so the drone is not a solution to end the war. I stayed for 3 months in South Waziristan, Wana since August and I visit different places where Taliban were attacked by drone strikes in the past and I meet some of the Taliban commander and others even some of them were my classmate in the past.
They told me and I saw by myself that daily some new people come and join the Taliban and everybody is ready to carry on suicide attack in Afghanistan happily. So it shows that Taliban are still strong and they are not yet defeated and nor defeatable very soon and the only solution is a process of dialogue to stop the bloodshed and massacre of the innocent people of Afghanistan and Tribal of Pakistan.”
Waziri also described how one young man had a fall- out with his father who scolded him, the boy’s answers was to run off to join the Taliban. He said that “if you go after them some will even turn on their family.”
Drones are costly, counter -productive and their use violates human rights law. The US and allies carrying out and supporting drone strikes are according to reports recently released by human rights organizationa committing war crimes. Drones must be stopped.
Thanks to PTI for anti-drone posters.
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”.