Stop the drone strikes

(Bilal Farooq, by email)
Filed on November 24, 2012

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader, Imran Khan, led a successful anti-drone march to Waziristan on October 7, raising global awareness regarding the devastation and miseries inflicted in the tribal region by the US drone attacks.

Two days later, on October 9, Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year old student from Swat was brazenly attacked while returning from school. The so-called votaries of Islam, the Pakistani Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack citing Malala’s pro-Western inclinations as their motivation.

The world is now increasingly involved in scrutinising the legitimacy and efficacy of the ongoing drone attacks in the region. In recent developments, the international community is increasingly condemning the drone attacks. Many international survey and media polls that have been recently conducted show that the US drone attacks are being facing growing opposition from the international community and human rights organisations.

Imran Khan’s peace rally not only cultivated a sense of awareness worldwide about the devastation wrought by the drone attacks, but also spawned several new debates on international forums regarding their legitimacy and effectiveness. His recent interrogation at Toronto airport regarding his “views” on drone attacks only strengthened his case.

But the attack on Malala serves a possible justification to continue or even intensify the drone strikes, which have caused several civilian casualties and damages in the region. This has raised a very important question: Are these two critical issues somehow linked?

The US has consistently asserted its right to flush out terrorists and militant outfits in the Waziristan region, which have directly affected the Nato efforts to reconcile its failure in the Afghan war. They have convinced the world and the Pakistani leaders that a military offensive is the prime and most effective way forward. Moreover, after the Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala, the resentment against the Taleban in major cities and towns of Pakistan will further strengthen and eventually aid the US in continuing their drone strikes, rightfully justifying them as well. Thus, the US has become a beneficiary of the Malala incident.

However, an overwhelming majority of the Pakistanis are certain that both the militancy that has ravaged the country and the drone strikes that continue to kill innocent civilians, are unacceptable. Neither can be justified.

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