PCNS snubbed, drone strikes to continue
March 30, 2012
Disagreeing with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, the US has rejected renewed calls by Pakistan for an end to drone strikes inside its territory. The decision was communicated by Ambassador Cameron Munter during a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The ambassador informed Khar that Washington was prepared to tender a proper apology for the Nato air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency; however, he refused to revisit the US policy of depending on the unmanned aerial automobiles to pursue its fight against al Qeada and Taliban in the tribal areas.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security presented 40 recommendations to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate for revamping ties with the US. The recommendations include the imposition of tax on all US and NATO supplies passing through Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan, an unconditional US apology for a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November and a halt to drone attacks.
An overturn of drone policy has additionally been eliminated by US Congressman Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman declined the demand, saying, “Drone strikes are significantly vital to American national security. So clearly, I don’t believe they ought to stop.” US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein thinks the drone campaign is required in the absence of an aggressive effort by Pakistan to root out terrorists and radical militants. Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit turned down Feinstein’s assertion, insisting that there was no doubt about Pakistan’s ability to fight the war using its own assets.
The Obama administration, following in the footsteps of Geroge Bush, considers drone campaign inside Pakistan’s tribal areas vital to dismantle al Qaeda and its affiliates. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles such as San Diego-based General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and its MQ-9 Reaper is considered as a cornerstone and critical element in the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism strategy. Mounting protests and public backlash against drone attacks as well as tension between the US and Pakistan since last November led to a decline in drone attacks. The US suspended drone attacks after an attack by NATO helicopters on a Pakistani military check post on November 26, 2011.
However, after a hiatus of about 55 days drones returned to Pakistan, with the first strike of 2012 taking place on January 10. In all, the Unites States has carried out nine drone attacks inside Pakistan since the beginning of this year, killing 68 people and injuring four. According to Conflict Monitoring Center’s monthly report on drone attacks, the CIA fired 9 Hell-Fire missiles in 4 drone attacks during the month of February.
S.N. Date Place / District Incidents killed Injured
1 January 10 Miranshah / NWA / FATA At least four suspected militants killed in the outskirts of Miranshah in the North Waziristan Agency of FATA when US drone fired two missiles 4 0
2 January 12 Dattakhel / NWA / FATA At least six militants were killed and two others injured when a US drone fired two missiles at two vehicles in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency 6 2
3 January 23 Mohammad Khel / Degan / Dattakhel / NWA / FATA At least five militants were killed when US drone fired two missiles on a house and a vehicle at Mohammad Khel and Degan village in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency in FATA. 5 0
4 February 8 Tapi / Miranshah / NWA / FATA A US drone fired two missiles at a house suspected of being a militant hideout in the village of Tapi 15 kilometres east of in Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency of FATA, killing 10 suspected militants 10 0
5 February 9 Miranshah / NWA / FATA A US drone fired two missiles that hit a compound located in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency of FATA, killing four militants 4 0
6 February 16 Spalga / Miramshah / NWA / FATA Six persons were killed and two others injured when two missiles slammed into a compound in the Spalga village near Miramshah of NWA in FATA 6 2
7 February 16 Zekerkhel-Khaisur road / NWA / FATA 15 cadres of a militant group were killed when drone attacked a moving vehicle on the Zekerkhel-Khaisur road in Mir Ali tehsil of NWA in FATA 15 0
8 March 9 Jandool Mandow / Shaktoi / SWA / FATA 12 militants were killed in the attack on the vehicle in Jandool Mandow area of Shaktoi in SWA of FATA. 12 0
9 March 9 Nesphah, / SWA / FATA Six Uzbeks died when drones fired two missiles at the compound in Nesphah, 12 kilometres from Jandool Mandow, in SWA of FATA. 6 0
TOTAL 68 4
An unprecedented increase in drone attacks was observed during the year 2010. A total of 132 attacks were carried out killing 938 people and injuring over 85. Washington carried out 75 drone attacks inside Pakistani territory during 2011 killing 609 people, with 52 sustaining injuries, says Conflict Monitoring Centre’s annual report on drone attacks. Since 2005 the US has carried out 225 drone attacks, killing 2160 people and injuring more than 248.
This higher rate of collateral damage is not only reprehensible but also exposes the faulty intelligence on the part of American agencies. According to a report by the Brookings Institution on July 20, 2009, 10 civilians die in drone attacks for every militant killed. During his testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May 2009, David Kilcullen, a former counterinsurgency advisor to Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus, said it was time for the United States to "call off drones."
Later that month, Kilcullen and Andrew M. Exum, who served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004, published a provocative editorial in the New York Times, titled "Death From Above: Outrage from Below," in which they estimated that over the "past three years" drones had killed just 14 "terrorist leaders" at the price of some 700 civilian lives. "This is 50 civilians for every militant killed," they wrote, "a hit rate of 2 percent."
Their conclusion? Drone strikes produce more terrorists than they eliminate — an assertion that has become an article of faith among drone strike opponents.
These drone attacks purportedly meant to target “terrorists” operating from Pakistan are causing much collateral damage in shape of loss of life and property of innocent civilians. They are not only in contravention of the general prohibition on the use of, or threat of use of, force under Article 2(4) of the United Nation’s Charter, but are also violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state of Pakistan.
In February, a UK-based legal charity ‘REPRIEVE’ filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of the relatives of Pakistani victims. The complaint demanded that UNHRC declare drone attacks illegal in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s sovereignty over its airspace, as well as civilian casualties that have resulted from continued drone strikes, are sensitive and emotional issues. The drone attacks have stoked widespread anti-American sentiments in Pakistan, with public opinion heavily favouring the termination of drone missions. The relatives of victims of drone attacks, tribesmen and the general public have held protest demonstrations against the CIA’s lethal controversial campaign. Pakistani government has publicly condemned drone attacks but has done nothing to stop them despite parliament’s resolution which asks government to do everything to stop these attacks. What course of action the Islamabad will now take after Washington’s rebuff of PCNS, only time will tell.
But for now, the question is: is the killing of our children entertaining Americans?