NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
Indeed, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s “Peace March” to Waziristan took the country by storm. It was a vivid mirror-image reflection of the “Tsunami” that Imran Khan has been promising – and he vividly and visibly delivered it last weekend with immaculate precision. The “Peace March” to Waziristan also has geo-political consequences, at least, for a broad-based debate in the international media on Barack Obama’s military doctrine of “targeted killing” and “drone warfare” as crimes against humanity. PTI will have to further pursue their ideological and humanitarian stance against “drone” invasions in Pakistan by taking the issue to the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, should the procedural processes allow it. We all know that the Pakistani incumbent regime in Islamabad neither cares nor is capable of challenging the Obama administration in the ICJ (beggars cannot be choosers). But the momentum against “drone warfare” must continue now.
Let us give credit where credit is due for last week’s massive protest rally: for its meticulous organization, inclusion of foreign peace activists and journalists and its two-day odyssey of success and the explicit message for peace in Pakistan and around the world, Imran Khan’s determination to deliver his promises is his greatest notable asset – a personal attribute that has been proven time and again throughout his life history. Imran Khan conducts himself with absolute determination and faith in the pursuit of his dreams and turns these imaginative and visionary idealistic ideas into absolute realities – that is the stuff of which profound leaderships are made.
The “Waziristan Peace March” is a case in point. It shows Imran Khan’s political wisdom, humanitarian concerns, keen organizational and management processes and, above all, the humane factor of demonstrating solidarity with the innocent victims of an unjust, illegal, immoral and brutal war. Not to mention challenging the fundamentals of a decades-old flawed foreign policy that has been jointly pursued by the Pakistani ruling elites and a superpower for wrong reasons – for the ruling elites’ vested self-interests. The US-Pakistan alliance has also been damaging to Pakistan’s national interests. It is high time for a rethink of US-Pak relations and changing the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Imran Khan has been advocating this policy alteration for quite some time now.
Let us go a bit above and beyond what the “Waziristan Peace March” has obviously accomplished. Let us see what has been revealed about the people of Pakistan, their enthusiasm and spirit of engagement to initiate a peace process to bring stability and tranquility to their own country and to this region.
Let us figure out what the entire world community has learned about the dignity, nobility and hospitality of Waziristan’s tribal culture. Let us determine what global humanity has learned about the plight of innocent victims in Waziristan and the destruction of their homes, families and lives in a war in which they have had no part. Let us see what the foreign journalists and political activists have observed about the so-called “terrorists” on every street corner of Pakistan, said to be the most dangerous place on Earth.
Above all, let us evaluate what the “Peace March” has exposed about the hypocrisy, double-standards, propaganda and hidden geo-political agendas of the US-Nato presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet, over and above these vital questions of global political significance, let us carefully observe what US ideological bankruptcy has been unmasked in its “drone warfare” doctrine and its incessant violations of international laws, universal humanitarian norms and global ethical-moral standards of political conduct.
One is tempted to ask Barack Obama, the US President, a simple question: if the accidental death of an American diplomat (the US ambassador in Libya died of smoke inhalation – thereby the responsibility of his death is squarely on the embassy’s safety and security hpw staff) during a public demonstration is considered as murder – criminal conduct punishable by international diplomatic protocol and laws – then how can a meticulously planned military strategy followed by a brutal assault, massively organized violence and absolute disregard of international laws (most specifically UN laws on targeted killings) be justified as a military campaign for peace, stability and in the interest of democracy in a far-off land? Is the American President insinuating that a superpower has the right to bend international laws, at its will, to adopt war as a tool of state policy at the time of its choosing? My question is: Is this presidential conduct, ideological stance and military doctrine political sanity? Or is it a reflection of the total madness of a superpower’s super elite’s flawed consciousness?
Julius Caesar, the Roman General and Emperor, in 47 BC invented the military doctrine of “we came, we saw, we conquered” – this strategic military approach also included terrorizing the civilian population of a nation under siege. About 2060 years after Caesar, the Obama administration has evoked a similar but more lethal military doctrine by terrorizing the local population of Waziristan (and other parts of the world) by remote controlled “drones” raining missiles on innocent civilians and indiscriminately killing children, men and woman, old and young and non-combatants alike (in fact, terrorizing civilians has been a permanent factor in US military strategy – but that is a different topic to be discussed elsewhere).
Robert Naiman, in a Sept. 29th column entitled “Why I’m Going to Pakistan: Under Scrutiny, the Drone Strike Policy Will Fall”, attributes five major factors in the flawed and illegal drone campaign in Waziristan: 1) “US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed and harmed too many civilians.” Those attacks have terrorized local population “beyond death and physical injury” and harmed “the daily lives of ordinary citizens.” 2) “US drone strikes in Pakistan aren’t making America safer.” Stanford/NYU research has revealed that only 2% high value targets have been killed by drone strikes. Drone strikes, have in fact, facilitated recruitment to non-state armed groups increasing the possibility of further violent attacks against Americans and American interests. 3) “US drone strikes in Pakistan have helped turn the Pakistani public against the United States.” Look at any public opinion polls and they indicate 75 -83% of Pakistanis consider the US their number one enemy. 4) “US drone attacks in Pakistan violate international law.Christof Heynes, the UN special rapporteur on extra judicial killings, has said that US drone strikes in Pakistan threaten fifty years of international law, and that some drone strikes may constitute war crimes.” 5) “US drone strikes in Pakistan violate US law.”Naiman quotes Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling of 2001 in this context.
Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who joined the “Peace March to Waziristan” said in a TV talk show: “If I ever get close to Tony Blair, I will make a citizen’s arrest”.
Sadly there are no such bold, outspoken, conscientious, and enlightened political activists in Pakistan or the US.
Sad, isn’t it?