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Pakistani State is Complicit In US Drone Attacks

By Abid Mustafa

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, November 5, 2013


The assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud  and the publication of  a Pakistani report claiming that only 3% of drone victims are civilians has brought into sharp focus the legitimacy of the drone attacks and  the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. At the heart of the issue is Pakistan’s reluctance to take concrete steps to stop drone attacks.  In this context Nawaz’s latest trip to Washington and his half-hearted protests against US drone attacks killing unarmed civilians smells of hypocrisy.

Consider Pakistan's UN ambassador’s condemnation of US drone strikes, when he declared that it was a gross violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and international law. He said, "Killing unarmed, innocent civilians is a clear breach of international law. We call for the immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territorial borders of Pakistan." Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif pleaded at the White House with US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes. He told reporters at the end of his trip that he 'emphasised the need to end such strikes'.

Since 2004, Pakistan's territory has been violated 365 times by American drones. These robotic fixed wing planes have indiscriminately killed thousands of innocent people. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism the number of people killed by American drones is estimated to be between 2525 and 3613, this is considerably higher than what has been admitted by the UN, American and Pakistani officials.

Misreporting death figures is not the only item US and Pakistani officials have been accused of. Both inside Pakistan and abroad there is a deep belief that Pakistan's civil and military leadership is collaborating with America to conduct drone strikes. After all, robotic drones —irrespective of their technological sophistication— still require on the ground real-time intelligence to identify, track and confirm kills. This requires an extraordinary level of support and collaboration from the Pakistani state. In the absence of such collusion, American drones would be flying blind and firing way off the mark.

A day after Sharif implored Obama to end drone strikes, The Washington Post published a damning report, revealing that the Pakistani government has for years secretly endorsed the drone strikes and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts. The report is based on top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos. In one quote the paper states: "The documents detailed at least 65 strikes in Pakistan and were described as 'talking point' for CIA briefings, which occurred with such regularity that they became a matter of diplomatic routine. The documents are marked 'top -secret' but cleared for release to Pakistan.

Even present and former Pakistani officials have admitted that Pakistan and US are working in together to launch drone strikes inside Pakistan. In September 2013, Khurram Dastgir-Khan, a senior member of the current government, admitted to the National Assembly that "tacit support" for US drone strikes by organs of the Pakistan state might be continuing. During an interview in 2013, Pakistan's former President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that he had given the USA qualified permission to undertake some US drone strikes in the Tribal Areas during his tenure, which ended in August 2008. Wikileaks also published details of Pakistani officials consenting to US drone attacks. In 2008, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani personally consented to American drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border to combat the Taliban.

Whilst Nawaz Sharif still likes to deny his involvement in assisting America's drone programme, the joint statement issued after his visit to the Whitehouse only serves to underscore his culpability. The 2500 word statement makes no mention of halting drone attacks, and only makes a fleeting reference to the topic as to respect 'sovereignty and territorial integrity'. It is as if the whole visit was just intended to raise the issue and nothing more.

So clearly then, Pakistan's civil and military leaders are mired in providing America unstinting support to carry out drone attacks and to assassinate Pakistani citizens. There is no remorse and no recompense for the innocent victims. There is only high treason and a deep sense of betrayal executed on such a grand scale by Pakistani leaders that it belittles any overtures made to Washington to stop the attacks.

If Nawaz or any of his predecessors were sincere in halting the attacks, no begging trips to Washington are required. All they have to do is to withdraw ground support and kick-out American military personnel as well as American contractors who are free to roam the country. This action alone would render the drones ineffective. And if any drones violate Pakistan's airspace they should be blown to smithereens. These two actions are more than sufficient to bring an end to America's robotic birds and give Pakistan some respite from America's global war against Islam.

However, the long-term solution requires the Pakistani people to get rid of such leaders who hold the whole country hostage to America's whim. This can only be accomplished by ridding the current corrupt system and replacing it with the Caliphate. The Caliphate will not only defend Pakistan's borders but also teach a lesson to foreign powers that make the grave mistake to violate its territory.

Abid Mustafa is a political commentator who specialises in Muslim and global affairs. 




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