US playing Call of Duty...in FATA
Take a step out of virtual reality: Is it time for Pakistan to stand up against the US and claim its sovereignty?
The ever so popular first-person shooter game has a new instalment. As the world awaits the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the excitement builds as gamers prepare for the chance to get their hands on the game. I’ve also spent a lot of time playing the previous versions of this game. There are brutal ways to kill soldiers of the opposing army, an adrenaline-pumping style of game-play and new technology that makes warfare a lot of fun. If you get multiple kills without dying, you get to control the Valkerie missiles which allow you to guide where they’ll hit. Oh yeah! Five more kills in a row!
Take a step out of virtual reality for once and imagine this scenario in our real world. As we speak, there are drones thousands of feet above in the sky, awaiting to strike militant members in the Pakistan and Afghanistan area. Sounds promising, right? The US government is controlling drones in these areas with a remote control from home. The drone attacks, which by the way, have increased substantially under President Obama, indeed do their jobs by killing members of al-Qaeda and possibly high profile Taliban leaders.
The biggest issue with this strategy is the innocent civilian bodies that pile up with the attacks. Do we call this an unintentional sacrifice or cold-blooded murder? Well, it is a difficult scenario to assess. To the Americans, this is a brilliant and necessary strategy. To the Pakistanis, it is innocent deaths and invasion of their country. It ends up beings matter of patriotism and nationality.
Despite all the controversy and human rights violations these drone attacks might stir up, it seems as if they’ll continue to increase. The Pakistani government tells its citizens that it condemns the drone attacks, but behind their back gives the US secret permission and intel on where to strike. As a Pakistani-American, it is extremely difficult to decide what is right, just, and fair. The civil relationship between the Pakistani government and its people has gotten out of control. Militants on a daily basis trigger suicide bombs in the country and later call it a “retaliation against the drone attacks”. The US is doing its job, but the Pakistani people end up paying for it. The war on terror seems to be a never-ending vicious circle.
Though the US states that since 2010, they've started using smaller missiles which minimize the civilian casualties, none of us will really know until a drone strikes above our own heads. The strained relationship between Pakistan and the US continue following the death of Osama bin Laden, the cut foreign aid, and most recently the Hussain Haqqani fiasco. It’s as if the two countries are giving each other the silent treatment, yet know that they are both vital players in fighting domestic and international terrorism. Pakistan has it’s own share of problems which include food inflation, an education crisis and a dengue fever outbreak to name a few. It seems to us that the problems are only piling up, as the country gets ready for another election next year. The brawls between politicians continue, the innocent deaths continue and the magnitude of bomb explosions continue.
To make political halaat (situation) even worse, a NATO air strike rained bombs over a Pak/Afghan border early Saturday morning, prompting Pakistani officials to take serious actions. The strike, deemed the worst NATO attack in a ten-year long war has killed over 25 Pakistani soldiers, but all signs point to an increase in death toll. In addition, seven Afghans were killed, including six children. Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai is blasting NATO from one side while Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is strongly condemning the "unprovoked" attack. It was evident, claim Pakistani officials, that there were no militants by them in the area.
In a brazen, but understandable response, Pakistan has indefinitely closed the border for NATO supplied bound for Afghanistan. Diplomatic relationships between the US and Pakistan are bound to bend even further as the US continues to act alone in its efforts in stopping militants by the border. The checkpoint that endured the attack was clearly set up for a reason; to stop insurgents from border hopping between the two countries. Is it finally time for Pakistan to stand up against the US and claim its sovereignty, or will it continue to be kicked around as innocent lives tally up?
When I wake up tomorrow morning, the Karachi air will seem fresh to me. I know though, as I stare up into the hot, baking sun that somewhere in the north and nearby in Karachi there is conflict within my country. There are villages and people who do not know if they’ll live to see another day. There are citizens dying from the bite of a mere mosquito. There are uneducated children that will be brainwashed into putting on a bomb vest and promised a new toy or dinner if they carry out the attack. Still, I cannot decide for my own sake who is right and wrong here. It is one of those downsides to being a dual-citizen of two countries that are fighting a war on terror. Politically and emotionally, I feel torn in half.