Pakistan: mobilization against drone strikes

Hundreds of Pakistanis, joined by dozens of activists from the US, on Oct. 6 launched a motorcade “march” against US drone strikes that they hope will reach the Afghan border region in the South Waziristan tribal area. The march—actually, a long vehicle convoy—is being led by Imran Khan, the former cricket star-turned-politician and his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party. The American activists are from the US-based anti-war group Code Pink. Authorities say the foreigners will not allowed into the tribal areas, and warn that the Pakistani Taliban have threatened to attack the march (presumably because of the PTI’s moderate—although not secularist—politics). But Khan implied that the government had created the threat. “I condemn the hypocrisy of the government, who tried their best to make this march fail,” Khan told around 5,000 supporters at a rally along the way. “They are saying that Taliban have sent nine suicide attackers. If [President Asif Ali] Zardari sends even a 100 suicide attackers this march will not stop.”

The left-wing and secularist Awami National Party (ANP), also in opposition to Zardari, accused Khan of colluding with the Taliban to boost his political standing at the expense of ordinary residents in the tribal areas. “Imran Khan is a Taliban supporter and he does all these activities with the Taliban’s help,” said ANP lawmaker Bushra Gaohar. “[His rally] will benefit the Taliban, terrorists, and those who have destroyed the tribal people’s lives by hijacking them. I look at [the rally] as political gimmickry, and this will not benefit tribal people in any way, shape, or form.” (Al Jazeera, The Nation, Pakistan, Express-Tribune, Pakistan, RFE-RL, Oct. 6)

  1. Drones kill “too many” civilians: report
    “Too many”? What an utterly perverse headline… From CNN, Sept. 25:

    Drone strikes kill, maim and traumatize too many civilians, U.S. study says
    U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday.

    The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%.

    The report accuses Washington of misrepresenting drone strikes as “a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer,” saying that in reality, “there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.”

    It also casts doubts on Washington’s claims that drone strikes produce zero to few civilian casualties and alleges that the United States makes “efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability.”

  2. Apple censors drone war

    From Roots Action:

    Apple Inc., which has received over $9 million in Pentagon contracts in recent years, has rejected from its App Store, and therefore from all iPhones, a simple informative application.

    Drones+ is an application that shows no depictions of the carnage of war and reveals no secret information.  It simply adds a location to a map every time a drone strike is reported in the media and added to a database maintained by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

    Apple has rejected the app as “objectionable and crude.” 

    Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing.

    The people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere living under the drones can’t ignore what’s being done to them.  Neither should we, as it’s done with our money and in our names. 

    A recent study by Stanford and NYU found that drones traumatize innocent populations, who have no way of knowing how to protect themselves from drone strikes. Further, only 2% of victims of these strikes are high-level targets. The drones kill civilian men, women, and children, are being used to target rescuers, schools and funerals, and create significant anti-U.S. hostility — exactly as the Pakistani and Afghan governments have said they do.

    Ask Apple to stop hiding the simplest of facts.

    You may do so by clicking here

  3. US bombs Pakistan …again
    Supposed al-Qaeda leader Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan AKA Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed Dec. 5 when missiles  hit a house near Mir Ali,  North Waziristan, anonymous Pakistani officials said. (AP, Dec. 9)