Al Libi’s death: Another milestone in war against terror

Published: June 8, 2012
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The second in command of al Qaeda, Abu Yahya al Libi, was reportedly killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on June 4. PHOTO: REUTERS

The second in command of al Qaeda, Abu Yahya al Libi, was reportedly killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on June 4. The Obama Administration has already hailed al Libi’s death as another significant milestone in the drive to root out terrorists from their safe havens in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, our Foreign Office has again let the US authorities know that the drone strikes violate our country’s sovereignty.

At this point, I think it would be worthwhile if we asked ourselves why the US resorted to using these Predator drones in the first place.

The Americans claim that they have broken al Qaeda’s back by targeting the organisation’s top and mid-level leadership and, therefore, knocked down its ability to launch attacks on the US mainland and its allies. I think hardly anyone, including our own defence analysts, would doubt this.

I remember a time when the US would, quite literally, beg the Pakistan Army to launch an operation in North Waziristan, where all the big-shot fundamentalists had supposedly established their bases. But our army claimed that it was battle-fatigued; that it had just cleared out militants from Swat, and had not been over with what it saw in South Waziristan. And then, there was always India to look out for in the east. So, that was that.

However, the clever Americans found a way to deal with that. They started using Predator drones during George W Bush’s second term in 2004, after, apparently, getting all-clear from the Musharraf government.

Pakistan only had to sacrifice its sovereignty, while the US would make sure that its soil wasn’t used for plotting another 9/11-style attack.

Eight years on, and we are still crying about the violation of our borders. The attack on Salala check post in November 2011, though not caused by any drone strike (thank God), did not make the CIA rethink the programme. We stopped Nato from using our country to supply necessary items to its troops in Afghanistan. But then the CIA scored once again, by bagging al Libi. Of course, there are doubts at this point if he really was killed in the strike on June 4, as he had reportedly been killed in a similar fight in 2009. But nonetheless, the incident would just lend further credence to the drone programme.

Ali.Mehdi

Ali Mehdi

A sub-editor for the Karachi pages at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.