Drones are NOT our friends

Published: June 22, 2012
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With that many strikes, surely some are bound to hit the mark, but isn't the cost of this a bit high?

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I work for a local charity representing civilian victims of drone attacks in Waziristan. When I tell them this, the reaction, even amidst fairly educated people, convinces me that there is a lot still to be explained about US-led drone strikes in Pakistan.

There have been more than 342 drone attacks that have claimed over 3,000 lives in Pakistan.

While missiles still fall from the sky and many are in favour of them, 3,000 is a huge number.

In this post I would like to respond to Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi’s blog titled “Drones are our friends” and for the general public, I am here to clear some myths about drone attacks.

1. Drone attacks do not target only terrorists or those those affiliated with terrorist activity 

According to estimates of independent sources, so far there have been over 342 such drone attacks within Pakistan which have killed as many as 3000 people, including women, children, humanitarian workers, the  elderly and the handicapped ─ none of them were terrorists or al Qaeda operatives.

To kill the 10 people named in Mr Pirzada’s blog, many innocent children have lost their lives. There is no justification on earth for this heinous crime.

While working for a Pakistani charity which legally represents drone attacks victims – the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) – I met people who have lost their  possessions, livelihood and family through a triage of drone attacks.

Most of the deceased were people quite like you and I, who really didn’t deserve this. For example, one victim mourned the death of his father who had been involved in trying to build community development centres for women.

***

2. Drone attacks are not based on reliable data and surveillance.

It has been widely reported that drone strikes in Pakistan fall into the category of “signature strikes”. This notorious modus operandi targets groups of men believed to be terrorist militants, but whose identities aren’t always known. In addition to these, local informants who serve as confirming witnesses for the attacks often intentionally give incorrect leads.

Despite the purported quality of drone footage, there are still many problems with drone surveillance. It is often pointed out that drones can only be as accurate as the intelligence that is used to identify the target.

Do you know that unmanned vehicles are being used to target mosques, funeral processions, rescue mission locations, and schools with the rapidity of an ardent teenager obsessed with his Play Station?

Reliable data – what a joke!

***

3.  Drone attacks are not a legal and legitimate source of self-defence under the UN Charter.

Contrary to popular belief, drone attacks are not legal. Addressed under Article 51, an attack on a state by a non-state actor can trigger the right of self-defence.

However, as the ICJ has recognized, Article 51 only preserves an inherent right of self-defence. If a state simply provides weapons or logistical support to a non-state actor, which in turn uses force against a second state. This does not constitute an “armed attack” by the first stateArticle 51 specifically requires that self-defence measures taken by states shall be immediately reported to the Security Council.

It has been reported in local newspapers that the ratio of killing by these drones between militants and innocent civilians has been a shocking 1:10 respectively. How fair is that? You do the math.

***

 4. The Pakistan government can do something 

The joint session of Parliament unanimously passed a resolution on May 14, 2011, wherein it was strongly asserted:

“…unilateral actions, such as those conducted by the US forces in Abbottabad, as well as the continued drone attacks on the territory of Pakistan are not only unacceptable but also constitute violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and humanitarian norms…”

There are a number of things the Pakistani government can do to protect the rights of its citizens, prominently the right to life guaranteed by Article 9 on the Constitution of Pakistan. As demanded by FFR in court in the course of its current litigation, it can provide redress for the criminal offences occurred, assert its territorial sovereignty by calling for a UN Resolution for the US to immediately cease all drone attacks in its region, use its right of reparation under the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on state responsibility, and approach the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of its victims itself.

***

Of course drones are effective in hunting down the sanctuaries of militant groups. With that many strikes, surely some are bound to hit the mark.

However, don’t you think that it is high time to stop shutting our eyes to the exact cost of this?

Do you think drone attacks are necessary in the fight against terrorism?

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Mariam.Kizilbash

Mariam Kizilbash

The author read her LLM from University College of London and has worked in human rights NGOs in Islamabad and London. She is currently a legal researcher for Corruption Watch (UK).

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

  • asif

    The drones help to eliminate terrorists whom our own forces don’t possess the capability to eliminate.The americans are doing us a big favour,they are cleaning up our mess,free of cost,our soldiers don’t have to go into these tribal areas and risk their lives,the drones eliminate those plotting terrorist attacks on us.The drones do us a huge favour,they’re responsible for killing of a lot of terrorists who otherwise would have wreaked even more havoc on our society.
    The droens our are best friends in the war against terrorism.Recommend

  • zeesanan

    Aik to muft may hamara faida kar kay derahay hain,hamara banya hua masla solve kar kay derahay hain,upar say ye nashukrapan.Recommend

  • Toymaker

    My philosophy is simple…. US and taliban+al-qaeda are at war…. People in north waziristan know who these people are….if only they could not be in contact of them, they will not be targetted…. If you give shelter to terrorists u are bound to get targetted…. and family and friends of people who are terrorists are never going to acknowledge of their acts and thus skewed data on the number of dead civilians….Drones are doing a favour by eliminating terrorists…. If you want to live in taliban like culture, good for you…. Bt thats not me sister…. I will never tolerate my rights being taken away. So yeah, Drones are good in my view.Recommend

  • Santosh

    “However, as the ICJ has recognized, Article 51 only preserves an inherent right of self-defence. If a state simply provides weapons or logistical support to a non-state actor, which in turn uses force against a second state. This does not constitute an “armed attack” by the first state.”
    You lost me here. So the ICJ laws are archaic and rogue states find loopholes. By supplying non state actors with arms in this case. And you are using that as a justification and saying they should be able to get away with it? Recommend

  • Ali

    @Toymaker:
    @zeesanan:
    @asif:
    Please read the article again, you are justifying civilian casualties (NO, people there are not “sheltering terrorists” actively) based on a hunch. They are doing us a favor? The day US stops doing Pakistan favors will be a good day. The day they realize that you cannot shove freedom down someones throat and you cannot install democracy with daisy cutters, destroying a country, and trespassing on a Pukhtoon’s freedom will be even better.Recommend

  • Hindu Indian

    I totally agree with the Author on the point that Pakistani Govt can do something, but the “something” differs. All the US wants Pakistan to do it target the militants and if Pakistan does wat the US pleases i am sure the Drone strikes will end. Is this so difficult to understand?The US is resorting to drones because Pakistan is not doing wat they want and sending US forces is not a possibilityRecommend

  • Ali

    @Toymaker:
    You cannot live with your rights being taken away while the right of people to live is taken away every day for no reason whatsoever by filling you with fear. Read up on wikileaks cables, US actively supported TTP activities in Pakistan to muster up support to make the army carry out an unjustified invasion of their own land. Sufi Muhammad and the Sawat drama was staged by the CIA.Recommend

  • Ali

    @Toymaker:
    If your house is next to a deadly criminal and Pak Army send over an F-16 to take him out and your whole family dies in the act what would you say then? Rouge elements (extremely low in number) take refuge in populated civilian areas. Local population is either not aware of their activities or even if they are they cannot do anything because these guys are warlords. They do not have necessary infrastructure to contact the authorities or are afraid. The only thing they can do is migrate, which, if you haven’t noticed, a massive number of them have done since army raided the area and people are still leaving their homes everyday. Please read the article in which it describes that US count any male of military age in the strike zone as a terrorist.. is that humane.. is that justified.. is that what needs to be done to take out a handful, if any, negative elements in the area..Recommend

  • H.

    AS far as I know, until the army stops coddling these militants and hiding and supporting them deliberately, these unreliable drone strikes will have to continue.

    And the poor people these sociopathic tribal militants surround themselves with as human shields in a futile attempt to dodge drones will keep dying

    Yeah, can we just build Skynet already and force it to achieve sentience so that all these terrorists and generals can get their fat butts whooped by SCIENCE and be rid of for good?Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Toymaker: I assure you not any of us, especially me, want to live in a “Taliban like culture”. However, we do want to live in an educated and civilized environment where the most fundamental human rights are not being eroded right left and center. You cannot seriously prove to me that five year old children, whose pictures appear in newspapers with their faces being blown off by drones, are giving “shelter to terrorists”. The essence of the problem is that the very nature of drone strikes make it difficult to verify the identity of those they kill. Offering money to local people to point out the location of terrorists before strikes is poor policy on behalf of the US as starving people can give out false information simply to get US dollars and money to eat. Yes i agree terrorists need to be eliminated but drone strikes are certainly not the safest way to do so. You and I sitting here might be grateful the US ” is doing our work for us” but tell a father who just lost his son to a drone attack on a Friday mosque that his son has helped eliminating terrorists and see his reaction. And if you believe the date on civilian casualities is skewed, then I would be most happy to share some realities with you on ground.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Santosh: No not at all. The point about a non-state actor simply rebuts a premise which people have used to justify US attacks on Pakistani soil. According to international law precedent, states have been sometimes allowed to attack groups of people inside a sovereign territory on the basis of self defense under Article 51 and that certain “non state actors” have been acting inside it. However the issue here is that Article 51 simply does not come into play here. Neither are the drone strikes proportionate to the objective give the number of civilian deaths and disregard of the elderly, women and children not to mention attacks on worship places, nor has the Security Council authorized this use of force which is a condition under Article 51. In addition to this, any “non-state actor’ defense by the US simply does not work either as those being targeted do not fall within the definition of non-state actors. Recommend

  • Sane

    @Hindu Indian
    Please take lesson from this. Drones may divert to Disputed Kashmir (Indian Part), if atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims is not stopped.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @zeesanan: Brother, again: the 3000 deaths so far are CIVILIAN casualties. Thora sa tou nashukrapan jaiz hai. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    No. of drones are inversely proportion to the suicide bombings in Pakistan, if you see increase in drones help reduce suicide bombings. So, yes drones are good!Recommend

  • Toymaker

    @Ali
    They are not using drones on civilians in Karanchi if i am not wrong. If they start using then there, then i will make sure that the area where i live doesn’t shelter them or i will just move away if there is any chance US started bombing there. You don’t need infrastructure to move.. you just need a will. And please don’t tell me these tribals are so innocent.Recommend

  • Hindu Indian

    @Sane: Yeah thats where the equation changes a bit, we havent sold our zameer to anyone, If some person sitting in US thinks he/she can launch drone strikes against any citizen in India and if the Govt of India supports it, then the Govt is unnecessary and we would take it against the Govt of India, not burn the flags of US. Rules of the nation needs to be followed. And with the way US is treating Pakistan and India, the possibility of next drone attacking Islamabad looks higher than Kashmir ;)Recommend

  • Johnnyboy

    @Toymaker

    I cannot seem to decide what is more upsetting. Your views on this sordid matter or your grave use of the English grammar. You are clearly ignorant on multiple levels. Please refrain from commenting further. Recommend

  • mariam

    @Toymaker:
    Toymaker noone is disputing that terrorists are often targetted or that they should be targetted. The issue is that the frequency of and very method of drone attacks on our soil maintains a militant; civilian ratio of 10;1. No matter how patriotic we are there are very few of us who wouild go out today and sacrifice our own life and that of our families to decrease the number of suicide attacks. So let’s not pretend its okay to keep letting the people in waziristan to keep doing so by being collateral damage and paying for the nations own mess. Drone attacks are not improving the situation. Its just getting worstRecommend

  • mariam

    No idea why we are talking about kashmir now. But yes its obvious the pakistan goverment is at fault re drone attacks. Noone is disputing that either. As highlighted in my blog there are a number of avenues it can take to claim reparation under international law and enforce the rights of the civilians killed. That is, if it keeps itself out of jail for long enoughRecommend

  • EmbarrassedForUs

    Amazing. Lately even in the American media there has been criticism of drones when it became known that Obama has a “kill list” with no due process of any sort at all. It also recently became known that a ridiculously vague criteria is used to determine who is targeted (basically any gathering of men in NW can be targeted).

    Even Americans are concerned about justice for Pakistani citizens.

    But Pakistani’s themselves have no interest in justice and fairness for their compatriots.Recommend

  • amoghavarsha.ii

    @Mariam,
    YOU have twisted as usual about article51.

    below is what i could see..

    ARTICLE 51

    Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    “no mention of non-state actors”Recommend

  • Confused

    3000 dead from drone attacks, with all 3000 innocent people according to you? okay.
    But then again, 35000 dead from suicide bombings in Pakistan since 9/11, with unarguably more innocent people, would you agree here?
    Terrorism has to end, and by drones you have considerably less casualties than having armies from both ends fighting. Suppose the foreign army actually acts in person instead of letting the drones do the dirty work, with every US or foreign soldier that may die in our land, this ‘war’ will escalate even more and more, and the line between innocent and guilty will thin out even more.
    As for what the Pakistani government can do, it passed that more than a year ago, and did it stop the drones? These laws and resolution are fickle words, however much you ‘strongly assert’ them, and our government or military has not been successful in showing any backbone. IF it did, these drones wouldn’t be here, and we would have been clearing these militants out ourselves.
    Every death is painful, and it is an extremely barbaric act to weigh lives as statistics, but that seems to be the grim truth. Before we waste any further time on discussing the ethical nature of drones (they are not, end of story, but you aren’t providing any alternative here), one should realize how these areas are being deteriorated every passing days. Soon we will be arguing over dead lands.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @amoghavarsha.ii: Amoghavarsha: Sorry about your confusion re Article 51. Due to lack of space,the blog here is a shortened version of what I originally wrote. The clarification about “non-state actors” was given in a detailed interpretation and explanation of Article 51 in the ICJ CASE Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America.) This case, which I had originally mentioned also talks about WHEN resorting to Article 51 is legal, which I have already talked about and about conditions the US has not fulfilled. You can find this on the ICJ website at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&k=66&case=70&code=nus&p3=4 and the same principle which restricts the use of self defense to very limited situations is repeated in a plethora of other cases such as Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Nicaragua v United States of America.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Those 3000 dead are were all unarmed civilians?

    And if you don’t want drone attacks, give us an alternative. I’d love to stop taking antibiotics for my throat infection, but then you’ll have to give me something else for it.

    And ground operations are an alternative to drone strikes like khota-gari is an alternative to your Corolla. We’ve tried these operations (we still do), and they were nowhere near as successful as the drones (and those operations weren’t collateral free either).

    Terrorist attacks are on a downward trend. The civilian casualties are obviously regrettable, but you also need to consider the number of lives saved by preemptively striking down the terrorists.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Confused: Let me attempt to clear your confusion. Just for the purposes of healthy debate since I have a bad feeling that myself and someone who reduces the argument over dead children to “dead lands” will not see eye to eye even at the end of it. First of all, 3000 people- solely civilians- have not died, “according to me” but according to statistics collected and published by a huge, and growing, number of national and international sources. Secondly, there is a LOT which the Pakistan Government can do but HAS NOT which is exactly the issue the blog was highlighting. Thirdly, give me the huge resources and personnel available to the US and Pakistan governments combined and I am sure I will be able to come up with an alternative soon- one which does not involve pelting civilian huts with drones twice a day. I fully am aware of the enormity and brutality of the 35000 dead or injured from suicide bombings after 9/11 , some of them being my relatives, but killing further innocent people is not going to , neither is, helping anyone. Recommend

  • Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi

    @mariam:
    Good Effort to respond my Blog , but how can you justify killing of 35000 innocent people in Sucide bombing all across Pakistan due to these Bloody Terrorist , Stop the drones for 6 months and still you will see sucide attacks at the same rate . Because TTP main target is not NATO forces in Afghanistan , They have eyes on Prime Target which is people of Pakistan .Recommend

  • http://Turkey Zalmai

    Kizilbash or Qizilbash? Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi: Mr. Pirzada, I did appreciate your blog and I am sure our nation, whose lives was completely turned upside down by the spate of suicide attacks in the last decade, felt safer after you highlighted that several high profile Al-Qaeda leaders have been killed. Firstly I do not justify the killing of people in suicide attacks AT ALL neither do I breath a sigh of relief when a people responsible for terrorism is killed. But the whole point is, when unmanned aerial vehicles are used inside another nation’s sovereign territory to scour out “terrorists” and that too, on the basis of poor surveillance, they in turn, lead to further, and greater atrocities and are often completely off the mark. So instead of calling these drones “our friends” which might be in distaste given the gruesome deaths of our civilian brothers and sisters on ground, how about we simply agree that the Pakistan Government has to a) seek reparation for the breach of its territorial sovereignity and death of its citizens b)actually do something about the terrorists and growing extremism within its depts itself . And then actually go do something about it ourselves inside of hiding out in safe quarters where we can turn a blind eye to the innocent lives being taken just so we enjoy our false sense of security and thank the US for breaching every norm of domestic and international law possible. Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    Miriam – Very informative article. And may I say much more tangible than the article supporting drone strikes. What specially concerns me is how conveniently people ignore the costs of collateral damage. If you won’t like a drone strike nearby your home, then don’t wish the same for others. Yes, there is no question that we need to take on militants. But for that, how about we strengthen our own law and order rather than outsourcing everything (including our moral responsibility towards our people) to others.Recommend

  • faraz

    I oppose drone strikes, but I hold our state responsible. Why don’t we admit the core of the matter, i.e. our state uses these elements to wage proxy wars. For this reason, we will lose our case against drones in the ICJ or UN. Why don’t we secure our territory, and eliminate the cause behind drone strikes? For 10 years we are seeing this drama, but doing nothingRecommend

  • Mj

    @Mariam:
    You are absolutely wrong when you claim that all of the 3,000 or so dead are civilian casualties. By all and any estimates, the civilian casualties range from the low end figure of 250 to an upper range of 600-800 out of the total deaths. The rest are Taliban, Uzbek, Tajik, Arabs, and homegrown terrorists hell-bent on Pakistan’s destruction and our way of life.

    Have you seen video footage of Taliban fighters and commanders? They are quite fond of living with their multiple wives and children, thereby putting them in harms way. We also need to take into account the ancient tribal custom whereby refuge is given to local militants and foreign fighters.

    Furthermore, the people drones are fighting have declared war with Pakistan, unleashing a deadly wave of attacks on us, leading to deaths of 35,000 civilians and 5,000 army men. Civilian deaths are regrettable but the alternative scenario is far worse which will make Swat look like utopia.Recommend

  • Iyan

    @mariam

    Please don’t waste time of readers by writing naive articles like this in the highly informed world of 2012. Everyone who has any understanding of Pakistan knows that US is employing drones with the full compliance of the Pakistan military. For whatever reasons, the military is quiet. In Pakistan, It is only the Pakistan miltary that matters. They can stop this if they want to. The civilian govt of Pakistan should not be blamed for anything since it has absolutely no enforceable powers, as repeatedly demonstrated over the decades, to contradict the military. If innocent citizens are getting killed, the survivors must protest the responsible party, the military, which you could have as well. I kindly request you to respond to the issue that I have raised. Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi: Mr Hashmi, I enjoyed your blog and I am sure a majority of us feel safer having read your blog and knowing that prominent al -Qaeda leaders have been targeted. But advocating for civilian lives does not, in any way,make me less sympathetic to the scores of those killed in the spate of suicide bombings that have consumed our lives for many years now. Calling drones ” friends” may be in great distaste given the lives lost or tarnished of our civilian brothers and sisters on ground. Many people suffer from mental health issues from the constant “humming” of drones, scores of people have lost their livelihood, belongings, families and sanity. The whole issue is that drones, which are based on extremely poor surveillance cause a disproportionate number of deaths and are unjustifiable no matter what norm of war law, domestic law or international law is applied. I am beginning to understand why may have failed as a nation and why we are still in the dark ages given this extreme ‘ two wrongs make a right’ attitude as well as the apparent complete lack of empathy for our fellow citizens. The common poor man no longer has to, or will, pay the price for the elite’s or the government’s mistakes. We can perhaps agree that the Pakistani Government has been grossly inadequate in both seeking reparation for the death of its civilians and breach of territorial sovereignity and in cutting the tide of extremism which brought on the overwhelming suicide attacks in the first place. We can also do something about it rather than sitting in our comfort zones in a false sense of security thinking that civilian -attacking drones, will improve our state of affairs. Recommend

  • Kanwal

    @asif
    I wish you had only one prrof of what you have been saying? Even if it was true, these are still extra judicial killings.
    @Toymaker
    Using your philosophy, if Iraqis started bombing London and newyork, exactly what would be your reaction? I guess you will justify that too? Afterall, the people of USA and UK, as per your theory, are complicit in the war crimes in Iraq. And lets not even think about Afghanistan and Afghanistanis for the time being. Recommend

  • Kanwal

    @Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi
    I am sure these bloody terrorists bombed Pakistan to kill 35000 civilians. Problem is, you are hot-headed enough to realise that fire is used to fight fire ONLY and ONLY in songs. In real life, you do exactly the opposite. The day you realise why this simple understanding is missing from the people designing and executing Drone strikes, you ll most probably understand why there were suicide bombings and what led to themover the years. A non-scientific attitude of yours is apparent. You justify crime in retalisation of crime?Even without investigating the first crime in the first place. This is very unfair. Recommend

  • sidewinder

    onus lies with the establishment of Pakistan,be it govt or the Military to stop these strikes.Pakistan has to make up her mind either to send her forces into north waziristan and quell the Haqqani network or to tolerate incessant rain of missiles. shooting down these Drones is not a pragmatic option for Pakistan.no doubt there is lot of collateral damage in the form of civilians but again it is the duty of armed forces to take necessary action against,the non state actors using Pakistani land to launch attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan.but sadly in Pakistan,only non state actors act and state largely remains a non actor. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Loved your article. I have always been sure that unlike the thoughtful mujahiddeen, Americans deliberately target little children and civilians, hoping to scare or defame the mujahiddeen. Also, Americans target little children and civilians based on random information, merely to amuse themselves and to overcome their boredom.

    Mariam Kizilbash, thanks for being another much needed voice of sanity in Pakistan.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Those Pakistani brothers and sisters who are supporting American drones, please understand – Taliban have repeatedly promised that they want only Afghanistanis to live under them not Pakistanis. So Pakistanis have nothing to fear – they must support Taliban, Haqani group, and all other such freedom fighters. Who is worse – the outsider Americans, or the Taliban who are brothers? I fully support Mariam Kizilbash and the Taliban.Recommend

  • malik

    How come not even once we have been shown the bodies of innocent victims of drones ? Why our patriotic TV channels have never shown us the innocent civilian victims of drones ? (Our TV channels have not given us even a glimpse of Osamas’s many wives…)

    Innocent victims of drones….they are like Santa Claus, Unicorn or Yeti……everyone keeps talking about them but no one has seen them !!!Recommend

  • Hafeez

    I have a few questions. If everybody is so against drone strikes, including military, government and the Taliban, why don’t we see published lists of the civilian casualties after every drone strike. What could possibly be the reason for that, since i believe that publishing lists of innocent civilian casualties would be the most potent way to stop drone strikes. And then, why is this that after every drone strike Taliban lay siege to the location of hit, and nobody is allowed to go or see the dead bodies, not even the political administration? The only reasonable explanation that I get from the people of Waziristan is that mostly the drone strikes hit the bad guys and therefore many of waziristanis actually support the strikes. Besides that, what is the alternate? Military operation that leads to huge infrastructure and human lives losses? or how about the PAF more than 5000 sorties that has left thousands homeless and killed in South waziristan. I would be glad to hear your views on this.Recommend

  • vigilant

    I agree with the Author……but i feel ashamed for fellow commentator and Pakistanis who are justifying the killing of innocents fellow Pakistanis……what so ever reason is……it’s like appreciating killing of fellow family member who was present at wrong place and wrong time…….killing of innocents during suicide bombings is not an excuse to kill other innocents…..
    Terrorists must be eliminated but not at the cost of innocent life and ratio of 1:10….author gave excellent metaphor of some psychopath using drones control like play stationRecommend

  • WoW

    @Hashmi
    Also your doubts regarding the civilians deaths – everyone knows that US lies about them. I am sure since you live in Australia you must have read this article too : http://www.smh.com.au/world/washingtons-silence-creates-doubt-on-deaths-20120622-20tjy.htmlRecommend

  • Mariam

    @kaalchakra: Thank you very much! However, I have not and will not like to comment on the Taliban. I condemn the loss of innocent lives, no matter who the perpetrators.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @malik: Just because they have very conveniently not been shown on some of our tv channels barely makes them a myth. The pictures of these victims have been published every where else for example see: http://childvictimsofwar.org.uk/the-weapons/drones/. We have indeed seen them.I would also be happy to personally introduce you to civilians who have been severely injured as a result of these attacks or lost their family members. I cant promise the same for Osama’s wives. Recommend

  • Parvez

    As a counter blog to the first one, this was good. What emerges is that there are pluses and minuses in both arguments and no definite conclusion can be reached.
    The drone is simply a weapon of war. Stopping its use will not stop the war, it may just expand it and that would be worse.Recommend

  • Umm

    @Pirzada Hasan
    Actually the drone attacks were stopped for 4 months after the NATO supply was blocked by Pak and the suicide attacks did stop. Then when they resumed again recently so have the suicide attacks, so that itself is proof how counterproductive drones are. They do not make the common man in Pak safe in anyway.Recommend

  • EyeRoll!

    @Mariam
    I think it is a futile effort to explain your point to Pirzada and counter his arguments. He is more interested in emailing and tweeting his drone articles to the US Consulate in Lahore and similar neo con journalists online for quick publicity. One only has to see his profile to see how transparent the gimmicky attempts at trying to impress such people through such articles has been.Recommend

  • Hammad i Khan

    Totally in agreement with your views but at the same time, quiet amazed (not pleasantly) to see such close voting results. Yes 51% and No 49% Recommend

  • Iyan

    @Mariam
    Your article is written as if Zardari & Co. can and have the power to stop the drones if they wanted to. You seem to feel that they are uncaring. My feeling is that such decisions cannot be made by the civilian govt in Pakistan. You should instead invoke the military leaders to act. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    I am all against these strikes.. reason are simple they more mess than they achieve.
    Now eve in America who bomb every now and then not just in Pakistan all over the world sensible people are against that..
    some links for the insight
    CIA director having concerns
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URl61u2D-kA
    have a look .Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Just for a moment think how about these drone are in hand some called terrorist and they go out for the guy his family and children and they are in the government. How would you feel about that. When we execute without due process injustice prevails not security.Recommend

  • Dark Knight

    I frankly am against any loss of innocent human life. Pakistan can do a lot to prevent drones. if Pakistan army is ready to co-operate and send army to comb and clear the region from terrorists, then there is no need and justification of drones. But your military leaders who are clearly hand in hand with their strategic assets ( viz terrorists ) in droned areas are just hoping that common public ( who are seriously brainwashed into believing that the ratio of terrorist to innocent death is 1:10 ) outburst and voice will be heard at UN and drone strikes will be stopped before all of their assets are emilinated.
    As the author pointed out HER SOURCE of information for terrorst to innocent death ratio of 1:10 is QUOTED FROM LOCAL NEWSPAPERS.
    It is a common sense that newspapers are governments propagation medium.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    @Tanzeel:
    One type of bombing replaces another. I don’t see how you find that good.
    And how do you say that the number of suicide bombings reduce when drone strikes are increased? How many suicide attacks were there 7 years ago and how many drone attacks?
    Compare that to 2 years ago, how many drone attacks were there and how many suicide attacks?Recommend

  • Imran Con

    Good examples of times human rights tirades don’t do themselves justice. People should only have rights in which they would provide to others. Those areas are probably a cesspool of human rights violations yet you don’t say anything about that. How many human rights would those areas give to others? Probably none. Maybe even death pending on your religion. There’s a word for people who give all the rights of the civilized world to the barbaric and uncivilized: victims – people aren’t going to take on that label willingly.
    “Better you die than me.” That is war. Stop acting like you can shelter people actively participating in a war and they should be 100% safe doing it and that it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to have happen. As if it should be reacted to by saying “yeah, those militants killed most of your family, but they’re hanging out with FATA residents and it would be horribly inconsiderate and impolite to go after them at their home base. So just sit tight and keep dying until Pakistan does something about it.” That’s basically a frame of mind equal to a death sentence. It’s a matter of some possible innocents in FATA or certain innocents in Afghanistan. Go on a peaceful lil pilgrimage to go teach the militants residing there that hiding among innocents during a war is not something to be proud of and it WILL get them killed. That is, if you don’t die before you finish your speech. Though i you actually do get to finish it, you’ll probably die afterwards, too.
    All you’re saying is the lives in FATA, who support extremism, are more valuable than everyone else in the world, and you wonder why there are a great deal who don’t jump on your bandwagon.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Author: “Do you know that unmanned vehicles are being used to target mosques, funeral processions, rescue mission locations, and schools”

    I do know Pakistani Muslims kill each other in mosques, funeral, markets and schools. I have no doubt, some high level Pakistan government officials get paid for each successful drone strikes.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @mariam:” Drone attacks are not improving the situation. Its just getting worst”

    Situation is getting worse because Pakistan is playing on the both sides, helping terrorists and milking US for money. and pretending to fight “war on terrorism”.
    Recommend

  • http://707monty.blogspot.com Pakistan politics

    drones are not acceptable read this interesting article.
    http://707monty.blogspot.com/2012/05/mystery-of-drone-attacks.htmlRecommend

  • Mariam

    @kaalchakra: Thank you very much. However I have not mentioned anything about the Taliban. I condemn the killing of innocent people no matter who the perpetrators. Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Vikram: Its absolutely true what you are saying. But I dont see how it justifies the killing of further civilians. Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Iyan: Iyan, the military is needed to contain the high spate of terrorism but even the civilian Government can do a lot of things to help drone victims at the moment. If this was any other state, proceedings at the ICJ would have been lodged long ago. Complaints to the Human rights Council through our own initiative still remain missing. We could also have demanded a UN resolution for cessation of the strikes. Still these are high expectations from a Government which continues to fail to provide even the most basic amenities to its people, apparently the right to life now one of them. Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Dark Knight: Interesting. But i did say LOCAL newspapers were ONE source. its common knowledge. Too common now to just be a local propaganda.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/28/us-drone-attacks-no-laughing-matterRecommend

  • WoW

    “Hashmi
    Can you kindly respond to the questions on your own blog, just like Mariam has the decency to do so?
    Also let me answer your question – 100,000 people kill in Iraq since US invasion is Iraq in a safer and better position? 1000’s of Afghan civillians killed by terror attacks as well as NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan, have the 150,000 strong ISAF force managed to stabilize and secure Afghanistal in last 10 years? I dont think the drones are really the solution in the long run, what you need is to nuke those areas so that not a single person in FATA survives and hence no terrorists. Yes the world will be safer then.
    Also you havent replied to this WAPO and Atlantic article which according to diplomats and policy makers clearly stipulates that drones actually do more harm in the long term and create newer national security issues.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middleeast/in-yemen-us-airstrikes-breed-anger-and-sympathy-for-al-qaeda/2012/05/29/gJQAUmKI0Ustory.html?hpid=z2
    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/05/do-obamas-drone-strikes-imperil-america/257879/
    Really looking forward to your reply which so far you are avoidingRecommend

  • Mariam

    @malik: Quite conveniently, you may have not seen the these on local channels but the pictures of these victims, who you deem to just be a postulation, have been everywhere http://childvictimsofwar.org.uk/the-weapons/drones/. If you think of them as such a myth, I would be happy to introduce you to people who have lost their innocent families in these attacks. I do not promise to do the same for Obama’s wivesRecommend

  • Mariam

    @Iyan: I appreciate your comment. However I do not think it is “naive” at all ,rather evidently, much needed to point out to the very poor modus operandi of the US to target “terrorists” as it is needlessly ending innocent lives everyday. It needs to be stressed that those who advocate for the cessation of killing of innocent people by the US drones, by are no means are unaware of the surreptitious dealings that underlie these- I think we are all. If not, I think you and I can next write something on the intricate role of the Pakistan military in all of this. For now, and that being said, as per law, no Government can tacitly or expressly agree to, or contract out the lives of these citizens and unfortunately it falls upon the Government just now to pursue remedies to protect the right to life of its civiliansRecommend

  • Mariam

    @Hammad i Khan: Thanks Hammad. Yes I know, our own level of empathy with our fellow citizens while we are being bombed on our territory by an external force is amazing. No wonder we have failed as a nation. Recommend

  • WoW

    @Hashmi
    The US Ambassador with whom you like taking pictures even he has voiced his opposition and concerns about the long term damage of drones. Waiting for you to reconsider your statement;
    http://www.salon.com/2012/05/10/dronewardefensive/
    So does the CIA counter terrorism chief who thinks they dont help in fighting terrorism: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/11/drone-strikes-yemen-expert-warns
    What do you say now or do you still think killing of civillians for drone attacks is OK?Recommend

  • maliha

    @Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi
    If you are justifying the killing of civillians by drone attacks as justified and neccessary despite the fact they violate international law, then any terrorist can also justify the killing of civillians for his personal reasons. The relatives of the innocent victims who die in these strikes can retaliate too. A father whose young child has been collateral damage in such strikes (in many cases this has happened) can despite no previous record of terrorism decide to take up arms to avenge his child’s death. Infact that is the justiification Tehreeke Taliban use to suicide bomb civilians. So what is the difference between terrorists and the US, both of whom justify violating the law and killing civillians for their own goals? And why should innocent people on both sides pay the price?
    How can you be so blinded by your bias that you are failing to see the damage drones are causing physically and policy wise?Recommend

  • raw is war

    of course, looking at the fact that terrorists are your strategic assets.Recommend

  • Ghufran Basit

    I’m with Mariam. Anyone who has a soft corner in his heart for humanity, may not in favor of this absolute “cruel-ism” & “brutal-ism”. This is surely against the humanity. It has broken the tolerance of the affected people. The whole world should stand against this unfair attitude, thinking that if they are in the shoe of affected people. Our government & our strong & unbeatable army should take the serious actions and show their full strength to stop this “cruel-ism & brutal-ism”.Recommend

  • Shera

    Mariam,
    Agreed that Drones are a little heavy handed way of taking out terrorists. Bombing the region using war-palnes like F-16s would be an even bigger way of taking them out. And maybe nuking the entire area would be top of the scale.

    All of these measures are like killing a mosquito with a battle tank. Of all these, the Drone system seems to be the most accurate way of doing it.

    What do you recommend we do? How do we take out the terrorists in a more precise manner? IT has to be done, we have to weed them out. Why do these terrorists want to hide with the innocents? they know a lot of these non-combatants will die as collateral damage.

    Every war since time immemorial has had collateral damage. This is nothing new. Example, when he Allied bombers were carpet bombing German cities every night during world war 2.

    There is nor better alternatives to the Drones. If there is, the world will try it out. Believe me, folks on the other side are humans too.Recommend

  • abhi

    I think every one will agree that drone attacks are very crude and as pointed by some one it is like extra judicial murder. But what are the other options? There are so many terrorist masterminds roaming freely in pakistan what else you think is option. The list provided in the other article about the most wanted killed in drone strike is really worth looking at. Do you think these guys would have been ever caught and prosecuted in a court?Recommend

  • Bangash

    Drones attacks are effective and should continue against terrorists. Pakistan’s useless army has abandoned FATA to warlords, Taliban and criminal gangs.Recommend

  • Headley is our Friend

    There should be way to punish terrorists and their supporters. If no drones, how are terrorists are supposed to be controled in this area.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Headley

    Headley has also spoken of how post-26/11, ISI wanted LeT to disown the Mumbai attack in order to prevent global attention to the terror group, which Pakistan considers to be an important strategic asset to be used against India. With Ajmal Kasab as the only terrorist captured, ISI wanted to blame the terrorist act on al-Qaida. It even prepared a list of 4-5 al-Qaida figures who were to be projected as the conspirators. The plan, however, did not work due to resistance from Lashkar leaders, particularly Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi.Recommend

  • Headley is our Friend

    @Ali:”Terrorism did not stop with USA. Pakistan has been terrorizing Afghanis while playing talibans and terroizing Kashmiris by playing mujhahideerns for many years. Now when Pakistan is tasting its own medicine, Paskistanis have suddenly strated blaming USA..”

    Terrorism is a big industry that brings billions of dollars to Pakistan. Pakistan is in “war of terrorism” for money.

    Once I read a Newsreport which mentioned how Pakistanis bombed and killed low level terrorists in a terrorist camp 2-3 days before Pakistan’s Prime Minster’s visit to Washington DC. This was done to show progress on “war on terror”. A telephone call was made and high level terrorists were told to stay away from the camp on that particular day. This phone conversation was picked up by some foreign intelligence agency. Recommend

  • Pollack

    @Mariam:
    “I have not and will not like to comment on the Taliban”

    Why? Are you afraid? The Americans are easy targets since its guaranteed that they won’t send killers after you if you write an article criticizing them. Can’t say the same about Taliban. I think you should show some spine and courage. I assume that you love your country and want it to proper as a civilized society.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Shera: I condemn the loss of innocent lives everywhere Shera. There are no ‘sides’ being taken. My sympathies are for people caught in the cross fire. On a personal moral note, I do not think we can agree to a heavy handed way for dealing with the terrible contingency we are unless we are the people whose lives are being affected by drones or we are the ones offering our own lives or lives of our families to ward off terrorism. For people asking for alternatives these are just a few to begin with:

    1) IF drone attacks ARE to be the ONLY method of dealing with the situation we are in and we ignore the multitude legal loopholes this creates for the future: the US CAN improve the date and surveillance used to conduct these drone attacks. It can NOT offer money to locals to point out “terrorists” and rely on this as one important source of data for the drone strikes. The risk of targeted assassinations are already high both in terms of legal process and killing the wrong people and then US actually basing the strikes on what locals tell them is a sure shot way of getting the wrong people killed. The area is rife with local disputes not to mention poverty and their “informants” often purposely supply them with inaccurate information.
    a large section of the public in those areas is not a terrorist, hiding terrorists nor involved in any kind of terrorist activities. And with their livelihood tarnished with these attacks, they cant exactly just “move” from those areas as so many of you seem to think they easily can.

    2) Refine its “Kill List”. American law professors have continuously expressed concern over HOW Americans decide who to kill! Guiora, a US law professor believes US policy has not tightly defined how people get on the list, leaving it open to legal and moral problems when the order to kill leaves Obama’s desk. He is not the only one. “He is making a decision largely devoid of external review,” Guiroa told the Observer, saying the US’s apparent methodology for deciding who is a terrorist is “loosey goosey”. It was revealed that the Obama administration defines a militant as any military-age male in the strike zone when its drone attacks. Sophisticated much? In an New York Times article that detailed the “kill list”, Bush’s last CIA director, Michael Hayden, said quite rightly that Obama should open the process to more public scrutiny.

    3) Make up with the Government of Pakistan. Early last month, Pakistan’s MFO wanted to discuss alternatives to drone attacks within its tribal belt. However no progress was made on this due to the sour relations between the two states …over what? Why of course, the refusal of apology for the killing of Pakistani soldiers, something Panetta still refuses to deem as important.Recommend

  • aloneinheaven

    What favour a you ppl talking about, we have already sacrificed more than 35000 Pakistanis in the whole process and how many Americans has died till???
    How if Pakistani Police raid some place with a couple of terrorists AND they also kill 10 civilians residing in neighborhood.
    Will you call it a favour from Pakistani police or what????Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Pollack: lol. I think I have already stated quite clearly that me protesting the lives of innocent civilians given the way drone attacks are conducted does not mean I condemn suicide bombers or terrorists in any way given that all our lives have been directly ruined by suicide bombings and terrorism

    Also stated clearly was that it is a myth the Pakistan Government has been helpless against the attacks.

    Kindly understand the issue the blog was addressing or else refrain from commenting needlesslyRecommend

  • observer
  • observer

    @Mariam

    How many of the 3000 Drone deaths are civilian deaths?

    And how many of the 35000 civilian deaths in Pakistan have been at the hands of Taliban and their supporters?

    And who claimed 5000 Pak army men?

    The Choice is a ‘nobrainer’.Recommend

  • Headley is our Friend

    @Mariam:

    A country that kills its own people with misslles should not cry about drones.
    I have no doubt Pakistanis are involved in every step of drone attacks and some high officials get rich with every successful hit. Pakistan kills lot more people using its non-state actors. Why no one talks about beheadings in Balochistan.

    On Saturday August 26, 2006, around 22:30 hrs (PST), Bugti was killed when a shell exploded in the cave in which his camp was set. The Pakistani government launched a missile and it resulted in the cave shattering down into pieces killing Nawab Saab and his men. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf termed his death a victory for Pakistanis and congratulated the secret service chief who carried out this operation.[citation needed] Pakistan’s Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani, confirmed that the operation included both air and ground assault. In a short telephone interview, made to a private television network, the Pakistani Information Minister said that Bugti’s death occurred as the cave he was in collapsed.[citation needed]Recommend

  • Pollack

    @Mariam:
    Doesn’t answer my question. I will believe you when you finger the Taliban in your blog post. Taliban has indisputably caused more deaths in Pakistan than the drones. So why focus on drones and avoid criticizing the Taliban? Courage and honesty is important if you want to blog about public affairs.Recommend

  • WTH

    That’s not true. I have a lot of friends who are PTI members.Recommend

  • WTH

    Nice to see so many US Embassy employees moonlighting as common citizens and commenting here. What a lovely display of Propaganda 101.Recommend

  • Keith Gentile

    Rather than restating this entire debate, for those who wish to better understand the arguments in favor of the drone strikes please see the commentary under “Its not time to ‘move on’, Mr Panetta. Not yet” and “Drones Are Our Friends.”

    I think any reasonable person will recognize the flimsiness undergirding the writer’s “statistics” and piece-by-piece dissection of her overall argument that has left her without response to the vast majority of points made, other than to turn a blind eye and restate emotion-based arguments.

    This is not the foundation of rationality, which ultimately is our best hope for peace. Recommend

  • Hafeez

    @Mariam. I would be happy if you would respond to my questions earlier posted in my comments. ThanksRecommend

  • observer

    Pakistan already reported that six soldiers were killed in gunbattles with militants Sunday who crossed from Afghanistan into the northwestern district of Upper Dir, a key border transit route that neighbours the Swat valley where Pakistan defeated a local Taliban insurgency in 2009.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/398939/seven-pakistani-soldiers-beheaded-military/

    Not by DRONES but by Fazalullah of TNSM to whom Swat was handed over once.Recommend

  • Mohammad ali Gaad

    In certain we peoples are foolish that we let them to do drones, the aim of America is non other then destroying Pakistan and they are doing so by killing huge number of innocent lives. It is the high time to take any step other wise no one will be there to save Pakistan for this massacre.Recommend

  • Diddly poo

    @Hindu Indian:
    True that. Indian occupied Kashmir has enough to worry about with the way their own government treats them. Heinous when a government does that, regardless of WHERE. Oddly unsettling how gleeful you seem about it. What a shame. Recommend

  • Nothing

    @kaalchakra:
    Shudder You seem to have taken an atrocious, heavily violent and hateful circumstance that’s plaguing Pakistan everyday and have tried to view it as a utopia surrounded by rainbows, unicorns and flowers. Taliban have NOTHING to offer people except pain and hatred. Their loyalties lie with NO ONE. And you’re indirect dismissal of Afghani lives is shameful. Taliban should be eradicated from every inch of this planet. THAT’S my utopia. Recommend

  • Ali

    This is the disgusting thing about Liberals. They have no qualms about killing people yet they sing songs of justice and humanity all day long. Look at Mr. Lone Liberal. Look at PPP, allowing murders of its own citizens. Look at Obama, no problem claiming all military-aged men are militant and the deaths of women are humane. No evidence, no trials, no due-course, just assassinations.

    This is why I have come to despise liberals.Recommend

  • Bewildered by the ignorant

    @Toymaker: The comment ‘those who dont want to live next to a terrorist should just move’ reeks the stench of a silver spoon fed rich boy living off mommy and daddy who has never actually had to fend for himself financially. Only such a person would assume that moving requires just will and not means… Everyone isnt a rich kid toymaker, and because they cannot afford to evacuate their homes (and why should they, has the government offered any relocation schemes trying to get the innocent out of the line of fire) does not mean they deserve to be bombed to the ground because terrorists and persona non grata have decided to set their tents among their midst.

    As for alternatives, how are drone strikes any better than on the ground military intervention? At least if the Army (or even a civilian military if need be) went in to clean up this mess, casualties would not be as arbitrary…> they would target the actual terrorists, and soldiers unlike innocent women and civilians know how to defend and protect themselves!

    While all wars require some bloodshed, drones are the selfish cowards way outRecommend