Stories about drone

Of drone strikes: “Did we just kill a kid?”

“Did we just kill a kid?” asked Bryant, a drone sensor operator. “Yes, I guess so!” replied the drone pilot. Brandon Bryant’s recent exposé of drone operations killing hundreds of innocent civilians during his service, which led to his post-traumatic stress and retirement, explains the dark side of the CIA led US drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Adding to Bryant’s shock and surprise, his peers believed that they had killed a dog and not a kid that day, and thus it was nothing to worry about. Bryant worked as a drone sensor operator for the USAF from 2006 to 2011, mainly operating from a dark container ...

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The problem with “collateral damage” in a “surgical air-strike”

The questioning gaze of that drone victim, who lost one of his family members – with eight others injured – on the fateful day of October 24, 2012, in a drone strike at South Waziristan, still haunts my memory every time a new strike occurs. Just today, four more people were killed in North Waziristan; they too shall be termed as “collateral damage” of a “precise air-strike” against “terrorists” hiding in the “safe havens”, and forgotten or not even talked about as individual human beings in the first place. When will this loss of innocent human life stop? Who will make the American government accountable for this ...

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Drones, Pakistan’s worst kept secret

The current surge in drone strikes in FATA has reignited the infamous ‘drone debate’ and ‘Pakistan’s tacit agreement’ on intelligence sharing with the United States. Only a few months ago, Peter Bergen, a US expert on drones, had revealed that the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan may have finally come to an end. Not only Bergen, but even the current Nawaz-led PML-N government boasted of lobbying against drones and convincing the Obama administration to cease the strikes. Till June this year, one could believe these reports and revelations as there was a long hiatus in predator strikes. However, it was on June 11 when, negating such ...

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The curious case of drone strikes in FATA

Peter Bergen – a US security expert on drones, militancy and Af-Pak relations – recently revealed that the United States may have finally ended its drone programme in FATA, Pakistan. At least, this is how the media in Pakistan showed its surprise. But Bergen was careful in his words and thus indicated towards a hold in these strikes and how it could, eventually, lead towards a total halt. Bergen, an author and a journalist who also heads the International Security Programme at the New America Foundation, has for long been tracking and reporting on the US drone strikes. Thus, with his experience and background, his revelation could not ...

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Dear leaders, if you can’t protect drone victims, let the K-P government do it

Dear Mr Rana Sanaullah, Shahbaz Sharif and Pervez Rasheed,  I write this piece in response to your criticism over the NATO supply blockade by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government. Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members would give complicated arguments regarding dignity, terrorism and radicalisation against your views, my focus is relatively simple. Just take a look at the picture of Nabila Rehman showing a drawing she crafted over fear of drone strikes. Nine-year-old Nabila Rehman shows her drawing on drone strikes at the start of a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters Gentlemen, I do not know if drones kill terrorists. I ...

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Don’t blame Imran Khan for your own mistakes!

Imran Khan seems to have become a lightning rod for mass criticism. Aisha Ghumman’s recent blog is yet another addition to an already overflowing list of complaints against Imran Khan. In a nutshell, she questions his promises spouted during the May 2013 elections, labels him and his tactics a failure, and demands his resignation from the party. Ironically, it is the attitude of the author and not that of Imran Khan which is more reflective of why we have refused to see meaningful political change in the country. Students of philosophy and Greek mythology are familiar with Sisyphus. He was a king but his actions ...

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Hangu drone strike: Broken American promises, dead Pakistani citizens

Drones would be easier to understand if we were to put ourselves in the others’ shoes. Imagine you are a resident of FATA – a land which you probably feel is barely more than a colony of Pakistan. You are deprived of your most basic rights and facilities, such as education. You reside in a backward region still governed by the obsolete and inhumane Frontier Crimes Regulation, where the writ of the tribal code ‘Pukhtunwali’ is above all. It is not the easiest life, so you try to seek sanctuary at home. Things seem to be okay until a trigger-happy cowboy sitting in ...

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Munawar Hassan, our fallen soldiers and citizens ARE martyrs

Some time ago a small, market town in England called Wootten Bassett attracted national and international media attention. The town was granted Royal Patronage and even US President Obama appreciated their actions. The people of Watton Basset showed honour and respect to their dead soldiers, who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whenever the bodies of British troops were brought to an air force base and they passed through this town, the townsfolk showed their respect with spontaneous gestures; businesses stopped, passersby lined the pavements, taking off their hats and standing in silence. The honouring of the fallen soldiers by the people of ...

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Let’s not misinterpret PTI’s stance on NATO supplies

It would be an understatement to say that the timing of Hakimullah Mehsud’s death has become quite controversial.  Just when he was planning to proceed with peace talks with the government, Hakimullah was targeted by a US drone. It has been quite apparent that the US is not thrilled with the possibility of peace between Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and Pakistan. Hence, the very first thing that comes to one’s mind is why this happened now when it had never happened before. Instead of getting into the possible explanations, let us evaluate the reaction of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to this particular drone attack. It seems ...

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Deconstructing a dangerous narrative

In an angry speech in the National Assembly on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan urged all political parties to unite and stand up to the perceived American pressure to put an end to the drone strikes in Pakistan. Earlier, reacting emotionally to the US drone strike that reportedly killed Hakimullah Mehsud, Imran took to task his critics on the issue of dialogue with the Taliban. Dubbing them “American mouthpieces” in a rather laymanish way, Imran seemed frustrated with the liberal intelligentsia for not appreciating his quest for the noble cause of peace. While Imran’s intentions may be genuinely benign, it is his misinformed, drone-centric ...

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