(First published 7.10.2013)
“I condemn both drone strikes and bombing of civilians, both are equally wrong, both acts of terror and one leads to another”
All Parties Conference (photo left) and Ehsanullah Ehsan, Political Commission with Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud (photo right)
After years of ongoing conflict between Pakistan’s military and militants, Tehreek –r-Taliban (TTP) the All Parties Commission (APC) consisting of ruling party and opposition parties came to the unanimous decision to go for dialogue with all stakeholders. See DAWN, Resolution of APC, September 9th 2013 http://dawn.com/news/1041675/resolution-of-the-all-parties-conference-on-sept-9-2013
Although to many this may seem a controversial decision, in this informative article “Between militants and military” former ambassador Awaz Wazir lays out the situation in the Tribal Areas stating the following;
Advocates of solely using force to resolve the problem are either not that well aware of the ground realities or have other objectives otherwise they would not have forgotten the fact that combat aircraft have already carried out around 6,000 aerial sorties for dropping more than 11,000 bombs from the sky on Fata although a force of over100,000 regular troops was present there to flush out militants from the area.
But have they? If force alone could have solved the problem it should have done so long ago. So let us not fool ourselves and also not confuse others by calling for use of force in Fata.(Federally Administered Tribal Areas)
Following the decision of the APC I decided to write to UN rapporteur Ben Emmerson who is currently tasked with investigating ethics and legality of drone strikes and impact on civilians to appeal for intervention to cease US targeted killing programme so that dialogue can proceed. It’s important to remember that you cannot address insurgency whilst turning a blind eye to state terror in all its forms. That would be the greatest of hypocrisies.
Here is my letter written as an independent writer/researcher, human rights activist who advocates peace and is also a survivor of US “collateral damage” (not drones) but equally devastating to my family and community.
Letter to UN, request for intervention on drone strikes (12th September 2013)
As you are aware I have been working for several years educating and campaigning against drones and have very good relations with many people in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. I decided to focus on this contact, writing on drones and trying to promote peace where I could through my articles/website. I work also from my own life experience of loss and injustice as a victim of US “collateral damage” myself (in another form) which I believe was mentioned in earlier emails.
You may have seen that there was a meeting of the All Parties Conference in Pakistan this week and all parties agreed to try for dialogue with insurgents as a first option rather than a heavy military operation which would only add to the region’s problems creating more violence and displacing civilians that have suffered for years.
I have a great deal of respect and affection for the people of the Tribal Areas.
Many people have died due to pressure from America on Pakistan to support its drone strikes and wider foreign policy. Drones are seen by many to be unethical and unlawful with legal cases ongoing from Reprieve. They are creating more violence and “blowback” to the point where media now report that a special militant faction has been set up in retaliation to take revenge for drone strikes. So there are the initial casualties of drone missiles fired, then first responders killed in “double tap” incidents and finally further casualties from revenge attacks..(which are missed off official figures). Its a vicious cycle.
I understand that politicians in Pakistan are looking to approach the UN on drone strikes. I am approaching you myself in an individual capacity as this is a key time to reconsider drone strikes on Pakistan. Please read my article regarding current situation… http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/pakistan-us-drone-strikes-must-stop-now-for-dialogue-to-start-a-window-of-opportunity-should-not-be-sabotaged/
First indications are that the Taliban TTP see the move by the APC as a positive step and will I understand hold a meeting of the Central Shura to make a formal response. I have been in daily contact with Tribal Area journalists for several years and now have direct contact with Taliban political commission member. I have nothing to hide, my only agenda is upholding human rights and as a widow, mother and peace activist of many years that believes in preserving life. Drones also operate from British soil through armed drones from UK appear to mainly attack on Afghanistan side of the border however British drone operators were relocated from Creech to work from UK soil which I wrote about in May 2011 http://blog.approximatetargetfilm.com/drones-over-pakistan-the-british-connection/ and many of our questions on drones remain unanswered from government.
Please check these articles…
Pakistan Takes Step Toward Talks with Taliban http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/world/asia/pakistan-takes-step-toward-talks-with-the-taliban.html?_r=0
TTP welcomes APC’S peace talk decisions. http://dawn.com/news/1041680/ttp-welcomes-apcs-peace-talks-decision
I am making an urgent appeal as an independent human rights campaigner that all possible efforts are made so that America ceases its strikes on Pakistan. John Kerry has indicated that US believes they have eliminated many militant leaders so as he is so adamant why is there a need to continue strikes when there is the possibility of dialogue. He did say to press that they would “stop very soon”. To have drones rain down on those who may be involved in talks is not conducive to creating a positive atmosphere at all and I believe could be considered an aggressive act of sabotage towards those seeking peaceful solutions.
I am therefore approaching you in your capacity of Rapporteur for UN investigating drone strikes and look forward to your reply.
Carol Anne Grayson
Since the letter was written the Taliban have stated that US drones must stop before talks begin see link http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/02/pakistan-taliban-say-us-drones-must-stop-before-peace-talks/
To date, Ben Emmerson QC has failed to acknowledge or reply to my letter.
Link for Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights
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. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. The author is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.