US Drone attacks on the rise in Pakistan

The first gift of the US President Barak Obama to Pakistan, after assuming the charge for the second term, is giving CIA a free hand to undertake drone attacks in its territory. While the government, through foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar intends to further discuss the issue, a person of average wit now openly opposes these attacks.

There is a growing perception that such attacks can’t be executed without the active support of ground staff.  Many Pakistani now strongly believe that these attacks are undertaken with the consent of the Government of Pakistan (GoP).

Very precise information is required about the target, a hideout of militants and till last minute coordination with the ground support. The precision is enviable because in each attack some key members of the militant groups are blown up, though a large number of women and children also die. It is said that these women and children are used as human shield.

The first question arises, from where these drones takeoff? Previously Jacobabad base of Pakistan Air Force was used and the general perception is that now these drones come from Afghanistan. This statement still carries low validity.

The real point to ponder is if these drones come from Afghanistan, why can’t Pakistan Air Force intercept these? There are two options; either the Air Force is not allowed to intercept these killer aero planes or Pakistan doesn’t have the technology to intercept.

The overwhelming perception is that Pakistan Air Force is not allowed to intercept the drones because the enemy is common, militants targeting the US as well as Pakistani interest. 

Lately, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said the issue of drone attacks would be taken up with US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson.

Delivering a policy statement in the Senate, Khar said drone attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity, adding that the government was not oblivious to the challenges confronting the country.

Khar’s statement on US drones came in the wake of the Obama administration’s finalizing of a rule book for targeted killings which would not apply to Pakistan, enabling the CIA to freely conduct direct drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Critical of the US policy, Imran Khan Chief of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) has expressed concerns on the reports that the GoP has given a free hand to CIA to undertake drone attacks in Pakistan. He expressed his dismay at the continuing drone strikes and the contemplated increase in them. “These strikes have not reduced militancy; in fact are a major stimulant to terrorism,” said PTI Chairman Imran Khan. According to Khan during last eight years nearly 360 strikes were carried out with over 300 during the first tenure of the Obama.

According to some conservative estimates nearly 4,000 people have died in these attacks, with a large percentage of non-combatants, women and over 200 children. These statistics tell a story not only of tragedies for the people of FATA but why there has been a huge increase in militancy.

Many senators have also deplored the US bill allowing more drone strikes inside Pakistan. The matter was raised by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah and was duly supported by members of other political parties.

Speaking on a point of order, Shah said the US Congress had passed a bill allowing the CIA to carry out more drone strikes inside Pakistan “at will” which was a violation of the UN laws and sovereignty of Pakistan.