2010, The Year of Assassination by Drones

Question Mark on Militant Deaths


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Question Mark on Militant Deaths

According to media reports, 921 militants were killed and 228 were wounded in 132 drone attacks in 2010. Nevertheless, all these reports are claims of security officials. One cannot find a single report throughout the year in which a media outlet carried first hand information from its own sources on the ground. All these claims of security officials cannot be confirmed or denied. Apparently, the security officials release the number of the killed on the assumption that all those spotted prior to the attack were killed. It is impossible for the security officials or their spies in the area to verify the exact deaths or injured.

Except few commanders of Al-Qaeda and Taliban the rest of those killed are unidentified people. Pakistani or U.S. officials do not release names of the killed people. It is assumed that they do not have the names, as the campaign is no longer a targeted killing. It has turned into mass killings of suspected militants in the area.

  1. Reaction against Drone Attacks

Reaction against Drone attacks is gathering momentum in Pakistan. Until October, there was no significant reaction against the drone attacks. However, as the CIA intensified its campaign of target killing, the reaction in Pakistan too gradually gathered momentum. In November, a resident of North Waziristan Karim Khan addressed a press conference in Islamabad and demanded $500 million in compensation for the deaths of his son, brother and a mason. Karim Khan’s lawyer announced that he would send legal notices to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, CIA’s chief Leon Panetta, and CIA’s Station Chief in Islamabad Jonathan Banks to provide compensation or otherwise face legal consequences. Later on Karim Khan submitted an application for the registration of a First Investigation Report (FIR) against Central Investigation Agency’s (CIA) Station Chief Jonathan Banks in Secretaries Police Station of Islamabad. CIA hastily pulled its spy chief out of Pakistan in fear of legal action against him. On December 9 and 10, 2010, tribesmen from Waziristan staged a two days organized protest in Islamabad against drone attacks. On December 28, all leading political parties of the country unanimously declared that drone attacks were tantamount to compromising the sovereignty of Pakistan and the government and the Pakistan Army should take immediate measures to stop them. Leaders of these parties said the government and authorities should sort out the matter in accordance with parliament’s unanimous resolutions and take action against the extremists by themselves wherever it is neededviii. These parties include Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Muslim League (Q) Jamat-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaf, MQM, ANP, and JUI-F. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned drone attacks and termed them counterproductive in one of his press talks in Decemberix. On December 29, 2010, he also assured the National Assembly that he would resolve the issue of drone attacks by US forces in Tribal Areas of the country, terming the drone attacks ‘counter-productive’. Answering a point of order raised by parliamentarians from both treasury and opposition benches, the PM said that drone attacks were bringing tribes closer to terrorists. He said the country’s military and political leadership had distanced local tribes from terrorists, but the drone attacks were creating sympathy for terrorists among locals, adding that Pakistan was asking the US to transfer the drone technology to it.x

On December 30, 2010, fourteen legislators from the opposition and treasury benches in the lower house submitted an adjournment motion in the National Assembly Secretariat. The motion was moved by President of National Democratic Alliance Nawabzada Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti and signed by parliamentary leader of PML-Q Makhdoom Faisal Salah Hayat, Riaz Hussain Peerzada, Sheikh Waqas Akram, Engineer Shukatullah, Akhunzada Chattan, Zafar Baig Bhitani, Javed Husnain and Maulana Attaur Rehman. Talking to media persons after submitting the adjournment motion on drone attacks in the FATA, Hoti said the continues drone attacks has created a perception that these are being conducted with the consent of the rulers of the country. He said by signing this adjournment motion, the members of all the parliamentary parties gave a message to the people of FATA that the whole nation stands with the them at this juncture of timexi. It seems that protest against drone attacks is seeking momentum and next year it can be one of the political issues for public demonstrations.

  1. Protest in United States

Protests against drone attacks in U.S. were far better organized than in Pakistan. On January 17, 2010, Anti-war activists held a protest march outside CIA offices in the US capital against drone strikes in Pakistan that they said drones had killed hundreds of innocent people in Pakistan.xii Around one hundred protesters, led by Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war activist, gathered near the entrance of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, VA. There was an immense police presence, and crime scene tape was placed all around the CIA’s offices. The main entrance on Dolley Madison Boulevard was completely blocked off. xiii The protest jolted CIA even before it was commenced. One day prior to the protest, Face Book deleted the invitation page created by the organizers of the protest. They blamed CIA for using its influence in removing the page. xiv In March 2009, Anti-War activist gathered outside Creech U.S. Airbase in Nevada State to protest against drone attacks. CIA uses this base to control drone campaign.
  1. Recommendations

  • Government of Pakistan should clear its position categorically regarding drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. If it has secretly allowed the assassination campaign of CIA then the nation should be taken into confidence in clear terms. In this case, the government of Pakistan will be equally responsible for the civilian deaths and collateral damages causes by missiles fired from U.S. drones. It should devise a comprehensive plan for the compensation and rehabilitation of the genuine victims of drone attacks and make sure that no civilian is hurt.

  • On the other hand, if government of Pakistan has not allowed drone attacks then it should raise the issue on international level and play its part in safeguarding national borders and sovereignty of the country. It should let the nation know why it is unable to stop U.S. from violating its airspace and killing its people.

  • FATA Secretariat in Peshawar should play its part in releasing information on civilian casualties in drone attacks. The Senate and National Assembly members from the area should come forward and let the world know if they are supporting drone attacks against the militants are they are opposing this campaign.

  • The name of ordinary militants should be provided to media by either CIA or Pakistani official. It is necessary to countercheck the claims of U.S. and Pakistani officials.

  • Women and children should be spare in any kind of conflicts and all the concerning parties must act appropriately that no woman or child is hurt.

  • Local journalists should be provided protection so that they can report fairly and freely aftermaths of drone attacks.

  • International and national research organization and human right activists should be provided protection and opportunities so that the real picture of drone attacks can be presented to the world.

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