Pakistan: To drone or not to drone?

ALI MEHDI
VANCOUVER DESI

A demonstrator holds up a burning U.S. flag during a protest against drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region, in Multan on Dec. 6, 2012. S.S Mirza/AFP/Getty Images

Hard facts: The U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, over 300 to date, have been ongoing for eight years, wreaking irreparable collateral damage, violating its sovereignty, taking more than 3,000 lives and speaking untold volumes of misery and grief

The drone attacks have increased three-fold under the Obama Administration, compared to what they were under the Bush presidency.
The stark difference between U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan compared to the ones in Somalia and Yemen is that they are controlled by the CIA for Pakistan and the U.S. military for the latter two.

Questions arise: Who is targeting who? How many actual terrorists have been eradicated? How many innocent people and their generations have been left to languish?

Is there an actual number that answers these and numerous other questions? I am still searching for answers and so are the families of 44 elders who were recently wiped out in Datta Khel in a U.S. drone strike March 17, 2011.

They were all congregating in a “Jirga” (meeting of the elders) to discuss a mining issue in South Waziristan, Pakistan, an area that is rich in minerals.

The U.S. view? Three terrorists were killed out of the 44.

The families of the victims have approached a British-educated Pakistani lawyer to take their case to the UK, as they believe they might get justice there, not in Pakistan and certainly not in the U.S.

Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it “more humane.” It’s the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors.

The U.S. military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. The pixels on a screen are counted, and a button on a joy stick is pressed, unleashing a Hellfire Missile, thousands of miles away. Maybe a pixel was a terrorist, a woman, a child, who knows?

The Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khar, recently stated “we are in a serious dialogue with U.S.” A dialogue? that is still considered a dialogue when it’s been happening for eight years?

In a U.S.-led NATO strike on the Pak-Afghan border Nov. 24, 2011, 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed, 13 injured. The attack comprised two NATO Apache Helicopters, an AC-130 Gunship and two F 15E-Eagle fighter jets, which violated Pakistani airspace up to 2.5 km (1.6 miles) into the Pakistani border area of Salala.

If such an unwarranted attack with manned planes and state of the art technology could go haywire and kill Pakistani troops, their own allies in this war on terror, one wonders then, how accurate are the unmanned drone attacks spitting Hellfire missiles, counting pixels on a screen and pressing “fire” on a joy stick, thousands of miles away?

Maybe they are accurate. So accurate that more drone pilots than aircraft pilots are now being trained in the U.S.

Maybe a few Al Qaeda or Taliban operatives get taken out each time and hence the current efforts of the Obama Administration to “legalize” drone attacks in six Muslim countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Libya.

Maybe the eight-year “serious dialogue” can be stretched to another eight – or 80 – years and why not, after all the Kashmiri’s are still being denied the right of self determination granted by the UN resolution passed in 1949 for over 60 years!

Maybe the famine in Africa could be addressed, while 40 per cent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year.

Maybe the drones are winning a battle but losing the war, creating angry survivors looking for revenge – Talibans and Al Qaeda in the making!

Maybe “legalizing” drone attacks is more important than “enforcing” gun control in the U.S., even though as tragic incidents like Columbine, Colo. or Newtown, Conn. continue to happen, more effort is seen being put in during the aftermath and none in the pre-emption.

Maybe the surge in share prices of UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, should go higher.

Today, Israel is the single largest exporter of drones worldwide, accounting for 41 per cent of the global exports of drones between 2001 and 2011. The U.S. follows closely and covetously behind.

Maybe we are all in a game called Call of Duty: Black Ops, a video game like hundreds of others that thrives on killing and nurturing the spirit of killing amongst our young ones, making them angry, vindictive and intolerant! Maybe these games are making them go out and play for real!

Maybe more lobbying is required by the drone lobby group, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). They began amplifying their concerns that the U.S. was lagging in global drone sales. Success came as they secured the domestic market for drones in February 2012, when President Obama signed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill. The bill allows unmanned aircraft to fly in U.S. airspace by 2015. Maybe the guns were not just enough!

Maybe we ourselves are giving rise to Taliban and Al Qaeda, and human fatalities in Colorado, Connecticut, South and North Wazirstan, as we support and lobby for arms and the ensuing violence whilst we claim to be the frontrunners of democracy and humanity.

Maybe humanity is not humane any more. Maybe!

Ali Mehdi runs a Vancouver-based financial consultancy engaged in Private Equity and Venture Capital. An MBA from LUMS and an MSc from the London School of Economics, Ali has been in senior strategic roles in global finance with banking giants as Citi, ABN-AMRO and Barclays Capital in Europe and the Middle East. His late father, Ali Mohtasham, was a celebrated Pakistan Movement worker and an author of four books.

 





Featured

Pakistan-U.S.

U.S. teen pilot seeking record for around-the-world flight dies in ocean crash, Pakistan-born father missing

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight was killed when his plane crashed…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

British Columbia

Ferocious tyrannosaurs might have roamed in packs, newly discovered B.C. footprints suggest

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Fossilized footprints uncovered in northeastern British Columbia suggest the ferocious tyrannosaurs that ruled the Earth 70 million years ago just…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

BC man charged in Syria terrorism

Burnaby man accused of joining Islamist fighters in Syria (w/video)

DOUGLAS QUAN AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD POSTMEDIA NEWS A British Columbia man accused of taking up arms in Syria has become the first person to be…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-Gurdwara president-wife

Funeral set for wife of former Surrey Sikh temple president who died after alleged domestic assault

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The funeral for Surrey wife and mother Narinder Singh Kalsi, who died in hospital after an alleged domestic-related incident, will take…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

BC Sikhs

Frustrated Port of Metro Vancouver truckers want government to push companies to comply with action plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

B.C. Securities Commission finds Vancouver woman who ran a Ponzi scheme committed $100 million fraud

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER – A B.C. Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100-million fraud….
Continue Reading »

Canada-Edmonton-stolen

Canada balks at returning Indian statue of a woman believed stolen from Khajuraho temple

DOUGLAS QUAN POSTMEDIA NEWS  India is trying to repatriate a “voluptuous” 12th-century statue of a woman with a parrot on her bare shoulder that somehow…
Continue Reading »

delays-problems-transit

TransLink says human error caused SkyTrain meltdown Monday

The SkyTrain power outage that stranded thousands of commuters Monday afternoon was caused by human error, according to TransLink. An experienced electrician was installing a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Slam! The Tour  poster Horizdesi

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone gear up for Bollywood extravaganzas in Vancouver, Toronto and the U.S.

IANS New Delhi – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is ready to shake a leg with his fans in the US after a gap of 10…
Continue Reading »

Actress Alia Bhatt attends the Highway premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Zoo Palast on February 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Alia Bhatt feels she’s too young to team up with Bollywood’s Khans

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood’s reigning Khans are in their late 40s and 21-year-old Alia Bhatt feels she needs to look more matured to look convincing…
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

If Hollywood has Hilary Swank, we have Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood filmmaker

IANS Mumbai – Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali compares Priyanka Chopra with “Million Dollar Baby” star Hilary Swank insisting that only “Barfi” star could pull of…
Continue Reading »