Stories about drones

Phantoms in the sky

There is again a funeral in my town, Of the three people, Who died last night in the raid, Of the phantom dark planes, That fly themselves.   When I hear them Above the majestic mountains in my land, It is useless to hide, As they kill indiscriminately.   A few months back My father was exultant, That my country had chosen a leader Who had pledged to take a stand, Against the people who control the machines That fly these ghostly apparitions called drones.   But now he feels disillusioned and deceived, That the seemingly trustworthy, infallible leader Went to the land of these deadly drones Dressed just like the drone people.   And did not demand To have the drones stopped. So that we wouldn’t have ...

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After the Kerry visit: Dialogue may commence, but drones will continue

It was scheduled, then postponed. Then it was rescheduled—only to be postponed again. Then, on July 31, it finally happened—US Secretary of State John Kerry made his long-awaited trip to Pakistan. Alas, there were few major achievements. However, there were two notable takeaways. At first glance, each one may seem to be a boon for US-Pakistan ties. Yet at second glance, one comes away significantly less optimistic. The first takeaway is that Kerry and his Pakistani interlocutors are really serious about restarting the Strategic Dialogue, which has been suspended for two years. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Deep and sustained dialogue builds trust, which ...

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If Pakistan acquires drone technology from the US …

Regular militant attacks have now become a norm in Pakistan. The situation on the ground suggests that tracking and hunting militants is difficult, whereas for militants, carrying out their activities at will is easier. In terms of numbers, drones have killed more militants in FATA compared to on ground operations, but these drones do not conform with legal parameters set by the Pakistani constitution. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on drones and the need for the Pakistan government and the military to come out clean on the issue. On July 8, 2013, it was reported that the Pakistani government is considering ...

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FATA? Is that where tribesmen are cannibals and women are slaves?

Over the years, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) have been a hot topic of discussion, but for all the wrong reasons.   We, the tribal people, have been termed as ‘wild’ and are somehow depicted as sub-human. Our women are often at the receiving end of pity because they are believed to be subjected and persecuted. Where to start and where to begin here? Through this post, I would like to introduce you to the Fata I have spent my entire life in by busting some popular myths about this region. Myth 1: In Fata,women are to remain illiterate and house-bound Please do ...

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Drones; enough said!

While doing some research on drone warfare, I came across a study conducted by the New York University and Stanford Law School that highlighted some controversial results of the CIA-funded drone military campaign in Pakistan. According to these findings, drones in Pakistan, used for the ‘targeted killing’ of extremist militants had a counterproductive role, which goes against the US proclamation that drones are a ‘surgically precise and effective tool’, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. The US government believes that its drone campaign is a surgical success that does not kill anyone except al Qaeda members and Taliban militants. Since ...

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Drone-fare: A clueless rant

As a Pakistani, it is safe to be ranting out against drones. However, if you happen to be an international relations graduate, you are often at loggerheads with your patriotism and reality. The question of legality concerning drones is a myriad of crisp talks and writings. The major issues encircling the drone debate, under international law’s spectrum, are questions regarding national sovereignty and targeted killings. It is common knowledge now (bless the Wikileaks!) that under the mutual agreement between the then US administration and former president Pervez Musharraf,  Islamabad was obliged to provide the relevant information for the predator drones to ...

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Is music just music or does it have a nationality?

In the early 1980s, when Ghulam Ali’s melody ‘chukpe chukpe raat din’ and Nazia Hasan’s sensuous ‘aap jaisa koi’ took Indian film-viewing audience by a storm, the armies of both nations were engaged in a severe conflict on the highest battlefield on earth – the Siachen glacier. Two decades later, the Siachen conflict grew to become one of the major factors for the Kargil war of 1999, in a parallel universe at around the same time, the Pakistani band Junoon was making the youth of India groove to the tunes of ‘sayonee’. If talent and armed conflict could remain separate decades ago, today, when the online world is casting a ...

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US-Israel: The evils of exceptionalism

Many years back, a group of people — shunned by their homelands because of their religious beliefs — migrated thousands of kilometres to a foreign land. Once there, with the help of the superpowers of the day, they used coercion and violence to take over the entire territory. To rid their own populace of guilt for the millions of natives killed by the army of the newly-born country, religious-inspired concepts of exceptionalism and predestination were created. Religion was also used as a tool to justify the subjugation and decades-long abuse of their fellow men, as long as there were ethnic differences. Meanwhile, ...

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Wake up Pakistan! This is your war

Pakistan is out of step with the rest of the world – a recent poll showed it was the only country to prefer Romney over Obama and is now proved to be on “the wrong side of history”.  Obama’s win on November 6 for a second term has been recognised by every country but Pakistan as a historic decision that is good for the peace and security of the Middle East.  The international community has welcomed the election result with much relief as, unlike his Republican opponent, ex- Governor Romney, President Obama will not engage in unilateral military action and will ...

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My name is Khan, and I’m not a terrorist

Dr Shahid Masood, I read your tweet and I couldn’t resist, hence the title. Right. Has anyone ever had the pleasure of being stared at in an airport by nervous bystanders after 9/11? Not a desirable experience by any measure. Ever had the privilege of being frisked at security check for twice as long as the person before you? Awkward. Anyone ever been the not so random one picked at random for a passport check? Yep. Anyone been taken off a plane? No? You obviously don’t have enough opinions to qualify. But guess who does? The who, what, where, why and when’s will become more apparent ...

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