U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan

US drone attacks on Pakistan are aimed at terrorists, but also kill civilians.

PAKISTAN, November 21, 2011 — America has been conducting missile attacks with unpiloted drone planes on the loosely controlled tribal areas of Pakistan since 2004. These drones are believed to fly from unidentified Afghan territory and strike on the alleged terrorists hiding in Pakistan.

Due to a lack of information, the impact of the drone attacks remains a mystery. Journalists have little access to the tribal areas because of the ongoing fighting and because those areas are dangerous and remote. Very few journalists work or live there, and authorities discourage journalists even from visiting. Pakistani journalists rarely receive permission to travel to those areas. Moreover, Pakistani media empires also seem to be not much interested in pursuing events in the troubled areas. As a result, incidents there do not get live media coverage.

Instead, news of the attacks comes from the Inter Services Public Relations, a Pakistani military organization that provides the public media of Pakistan with the news relating to drone attacks on Pakistan. After each drone attack, the ISPR provides media with the number of people killed and their nationalities. But the Pakistani media are not provided with the resources to actually travel to the places where drone attacks were made. The families and relatives of the victims are not identified and have no access to the media. Media are unable to show images of the attack sites and cannot independently identify the whereabouts of victims. Pakistani media cannot confirm the number of civilians killed in these attacks.

Nobody knows the exact number of drone attacks so far on Pakistan, but they range in from 250-300 since 2004. Drone attacks kill both terrorists and civilians. The number of attacks conducted this year is over 60.

America thinks that since the terrorists from Afghanistan are hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan, and because the Pakistani government does not exert its full control on these tribal people, attacks are justified under international law.

The Pakistani government has shown its distaste for these strikes on numerous occasions, but most of the time it seems indifferent to them. The public, however, vehemently opposes them. They have condemned the political parties who fail to stop the attacks and have held protests against the policies. After the 17 March attack, which killed about 40 people, there was a national outcry in Pakistan.  

The U.S. conducts two types of attacks on Pakistan. Personal attacks target one wanted terrorist, and signature attacks kill foot soldiers and low rank terrorists allegedly involved in attacks on American interests in Afghanistan. America also assumes that the number of civilians killed in these drone attacks is negligible, but nevertheless, civilian deaths do occur because of these strikes.

A few days ago, the U.S. put new restrictions on drones. Under these restrictions, America will tell Pakistan before a major strike expected to kill more than twenty people, but will continue to conduct strikes without warning against smaller targets.

The drone technology is very useful in eliminating terrorists, but the civilian deaths are causing increased hate for America in the minds of ordinary Pakistani citizens. If America wants to catch terrorists, it should be more careful in its actions and should give more heed to the ordinary innocent civilians living in tribal areas to avoid the anti-American sentiments rising as a result of drone attacks.

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Qaisar Farooq Gondal

Qaisar Farooq Gondal is an ordinary moderate muslim living in Pakistan. He is facing the challenge of living in a country which is rapidly loosing its friends in the global community because of its policies. He is trying to bring close people of Pakistan and America in an attempt to avoid any catastrophe. He is a physician by profession but enjoys writing and feels more in control of the things through his literary efforts.


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