Off The Net:

By Raja G Mujtaba

Hamid Rajput is an interesting person, always digging for something new and different and in different lands but for him Pakistan remains at the core.

Today he surfed into a report that if gets through would have some face to face with death staring at them from a point blank range. For some killing of people is like shredding vegetables but those who die leave a trail of their blood that hunts the killer no matter where he or she maybe.

In this not so friendly world, there are people who have a heart and a living conscience. One such person is British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith who is leading the campaign to have John Rizzo, the CIA head in-charge of Drone Attacks to kill Pakistanis.

John Rizzo has admitted to have approved the attacks in Pakistan that killed minimal or no militants but scores of innocents very conveniently declared as collaterals. One can only wish if some kith and kin of the attackers such as John Rizzo, Panetta, Bush or Obama were part of such collaterals only then the pain of death would have been understood.

Clive Smith is a brave man, with a strong conscience who has the Pakistani families and lawyers on his side. He has decided to register the first case in Islamabad, Pakistan; of course later the net would be expanded to lope in all those who were involved in this ruthless cold blooded killing. Of course the further leads to the killer gang would be provided by none other than John Rizzo. This would only be a tip of the iceberg, the world would certainly witness some fireworks provided Clive Smith succeeds in netting the criminals in.

John Rizzo who now stands retired admitting in an interview with Newsweek that since 2004 he had approved monthly drone attacks on targets in Pakistan, even though the US is not at war with the country. Here no Pakistani can forget and forgive Parvez Musharraf who lied to the people and allowed the US to base its drones on Shamsi Base in Balochistan. Maybe at some stage of the case, even he is roped in.

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Might is right, on the face of it Pakistan is US ally but in actuality is being treated like an enemy. Not only the drones are being launched but CIA agents were also released in the country like ants. Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor through Blackwater/Xe killed two Pakistanis and was responsible for the deaths of two more including Shumaila the widow of one gunned person by Raymond.

Raymond’s killings brought the people on the streets but for some luck an ugly situation was averted. Had the people got violent, not single American could have left the country. As if that was not enough, on May 2nd, US launched another sneak raid against Pakistan; in fact it was an act of aggression against a sovereign state and that too a declared ally. If this is how allies are treated then it’s better to be an enemy and be ready to fight off any intrusion and aggression.

After this act of May 2, Pakistan decided and very rightly so to pack up all the US and British trainers in Pakistan. They were not only costing very heavily but were all potential spies who can not be seen on Pakistan soil. Pakistan has learnt a bitter lesson and now very difficult to trust the US again and get trapped for something worse. Pakistan has to protect her nuclear assets and that can only be done by keeping the Americans at bay.

Feeling helpless, the US decided to freeze all the military aid to Pakistan; the first freeze was of 800 million dollars. Pakistan took it with a bold face and stood firm on her ground. The Corps Commanders Conference chaired by General Kayani was a testimony to the fact that now on Pakistan must fight its own war through her own resources. Little realizing that by choking Pakistan, the US had a knife on her jugular vein. Pakistan is the jugular vein for the US in fighting the Afghan war, more than Pakistan it would been the US who would have been hurt had the aid not been restored.

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General Pasha, who is known to break off the talks at any stage would not budge an inch to compromise the national interest. He can walk off half way through the meetings but not surrendering to the American pressure. On the aid freeze even the US media warned the US administration that it would hurt the US more than it would hurt Pakistan. Here credit must also be given to our friends over the Karakuram mountains, China who stood behind Pakistan very firmly. General Pasha had paid a visit to China before embarking on the Washington sojourn. Ultimately the aid was released and the US saved herself from a major embarrassment.

Coming back to deadly drones, Peter Beaumont writing for the Guardian says, “Rizzo, who was by his own admission "up to my eyeballs" in approving CIA use of "enhanced interrogation techniques", said in the interview that the CIA operated "a hit list". He also asked: "How many law professors have signed off on a death warrant?"

According to Peter, Rizzo has also admitted being present while civilian operators conducted drone strikes from their terminals at the CIA headquarters in Virginia.

So come Virginians, Clive Smith is waiting for you. He is very optimistic that he would get the Interpol to issue the arrest warrant and apprehend Rizzo. If that’s done then, then some of you may also be tagged to Rizzo. Islamabad would once again become the center stage for world media. How the Pakistan government would take the pressure would be quite interesting or may be amusing for some. Maybe Pakistan is saved that embarrassment if the US refuses to extradite John Rizzo but certainly the public pressure is likely to mount at least in three places if not more namely, Washington, London and Islamabad.

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While killing civilians in military operations is unavoidable hence not illegal under international law but if proved to be deliberate, disproportionate or reckless, the tables can be turned on the attacker. Drone attacks in Pakistan has enough substance to prove the Gringo adventurism of the US operators therefore Clive Smith will have a ball in getting the case initiated.

All along through my writings and TV talks, I have been insisting that Pakistan must redefine her foreign policy. Should get more closer to China, Iran, Russia and Afghanistan. Now it seems the words have been heard, Zardari left for Iran and Lt Gen Waheed for China.

Now the US must be regretting to have over played her card of ‘Do More.’ Pakistan has said ‘enough is enough’ and taken off on a tangent. Today Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President has flown to Tehran where he will have friendly and heart to heart discussions with Ahmedinejad. In today’s scenario, Iran and Pakistan have become a mutual need for each other. Lt General Waheed Arshad, Chief of General Staff has flown to Beijing to cement military ties with China and procure more modern equipment for our defence forces. This visit would also ink mutual military training programs to the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Thank you Uncle Sam for your arrogance and stubbornness, you helped us in getting away from your clutches. This would certainly give Pakistan more leverage, freedom and independence to peruse our national interests.

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