By Dr. Haider Mehdi

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, in a recent column “Drones Lead the West’s New Terror Campaign” opined the following: “CIA’s Predators are visiting upon innocent Pakistanis the same horror that Hitler’s ‘doodlebugs’ inflicted on London.”

The fact is that American atrocities on Pakistani soil and against its innocent civilians are greater than Hitler’s crimes against Londoners. At least Hitler was in a state of war against Britain, but here, in the case of US drone attacks, the perpetrator is an ally who claims common interests with the people of Pakistan. The entire logic of the American “drone doctrine” is agonizing, to say the least. Is it rational to target the people of a friendly nation and rain missiles upon the old and young, killing innocent men, women and children, and calling it a military strategy of bringing peace and stability to the region? Only fools, inside and outside of Pakistan, act as apologists for the US-NATO’s crimes against humanity.

Did the Pakistani Foreign Minister consider the extent of human tragedy in Waziristan when in her recent visit to Washington D.C. she proclaimed (to please her masters) that her government was in favor of the purpose for which drones were being used but opposed the way they (drones) were operated. Did the top Pakistani diplomat try to understand the link between the purpose and the obvious consequences on ground realities? Or did she imagine a drone strike without any significant effects on human existence?

Let me attempt to educate the Foreign Minister a bit. Obviously, the Foreign Minister is absolutely ignorant of the “cause-effects” relationship between military operational tactics and their destructive psychological consequences in terms of loss of human life on the ground. Army operations kill and the killings are indiscriminate when missiles fall from the sky. The purpose of a military campaign such as drone-attacks and its effects are intertwined and cannot be separated from each other, but the Pakistani Foreign Minister and her government in Islamabad seem oblivious to this fact.  

“David Rohde, a former New York Times journalist held by the Taliban for months in Waziristan, describes the fear that the drones inspired in ordinary civilians: From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death.”

Clive Stafford Smith, in the afore-mentioned article wrote: “Every Waziri town has been terrorized…  But for me, it brings to mind my mother, Jean Stafford Smith… In 1944 she was 17… Sixty-eight years on, my mother retains vivid memories of the gathering gloom. When the doodlebugs (as V1s – Hitler’s drones  – were called) came over, she knew she was safe as long as she could hear the engine; only when they fell silent did she have to worry where they might fall… on June 30, 1944 – a drone struck Tottenham Court Road… a witness described ‘a bus, still packed with people sitting in all the seats, but all the glass blown out and all the skin blown off their faces.’ ”

“Incredible as it sounds, more people have died in drone attacks on the watch of this Noble laureate president (Barack Obama) than those imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay by his predecessor. Indeed, as Roger Cohen puts it, drone have become the coin of Obama’s realm,” wrote Aijaz Zaka Syed, a Gulf based commentator, in a recent article entitled “Droning his way to a second term.”

The Pakistani government of Zardari’s PPP regime in Islamabad has been holding the people of Waziristan hostage to its policy of appeasement towards the US-Nato strategic motives in the region as payback for US help in putting their regime in political power in Pakistan.  Recent proof of this foreign policy foolishness was Hina Rabbani Khar’s statement of placation towards Obama’s continuing aerial warfare inside Pakistan’s territory.  

Indeed, there is no moral, political, strategic or military-ideological justification for drone warfare against the people of Pakistan.  It’s a crime against humanity and it ought to be considered as such.

There is an insightful, visionary, political-strategic, humanitarian-moral and nationalist perspective in PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s view on “war on terror” and the US drone attacks in Waziristan. This war imposed on Pakistan and Afghanistan by the US and its western allies cannot be won by military means and the application of lethal force. The only resolution to this forced-upon-us conflict is by a peaceful political reconciliation process: the drone attacks must stop. The majority population of Waziristan must be brought into the mainstream political arena and the security of its own territory must be handed over to its tribal structure. It needs to be noted here that historically Waziristan has always been the most peaceful; its tribal culture and its intricate historical manifestations have timelessly maintained peace and tranquility in the area. And those are the only political dynamics through which peace can be reestablished there.

On the other hand, “Foreign Policy in US politics is often (rather always) an exercise in demonstrating strength rather than wisdom,” wrote Christopher R. Hill in a recent article “US Politics: Wisdom Loses Out To Strength.”  Drone warfare in Waziristan is that demonstration of US Military might and strength – without any political wisdom and lessons learned from history and failure of its military strategy. Fawaz Turki, a journalist and lecturer in Washington, explains the phenomenon as follows: “America’s status as a big power has penetrated the consciousness of ordinary citizens with a sense of the rule of the gun.” I have concluded that Barack Obama, at the end of the day, is a product of that ordinary American citizens “consciousness” and knows nothing better than “the rule of the gun”. But that will work neither in Waziristan nor in Afghanistan, come what may!

Imran Khan’s “Peace March to Waziristan” is political wisdom at its best and the only ray of hope to bring peace to Waziristan by political means. It will be a historical event to change global perceptions of the “war on terror” and highlight the humanitarian atrocities that are inflicted on the ordinary citizens of Pakistan in Waziristan in its name. It will expose the bankruptcy of the US military doctrine as well as the hypocrisy of  the incumbent Pakistani regime in Islamabad and its ill-fitted alliance with US-Nato on the so-called “war on terror”.   

Will the humanitarian consciousness of the world community respond to the plight of common people in Waziristan?

Will the world community understand what Clive Stafford Smith describes as “CIA’s Predators are visiting upon innocent Pakistanis the same horror that Hitler’s ‘doodlebugs’ inflicted on London?”

It’s a test for the global community’s humanitarian consciousness!

Let us watch how the West, in particular, responds to a political attempt at peace by reconciliation!