Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims

When the Sandy hurricane came, I thought that Allah would wipe away America, says relative of drone victims.

Reuters November 08, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The roars celebrating the re-election of US President Barack Obama on television give Mohammad Rehman Khan a searing headache, as years of grief and anger come rushing back.     

The 28-year-old Pakistani accuses the president of robbing him of his father, three brothers and a nephew, all killed in a US drone attack a month after Obama first took office.

"The same person who attacked my home has gotten re-elected," he told Reuters in the capital, Islamabad, where he fled after the attack on his village in South Waziristan, one of several tribal areas near the Afghan border.

"Since yesterday, the pressure on my brain has increased. I remember all of the pain again."

In his re-election campaign, Obama gave no indication he would halt or alter the drone programme, which he embraced in his first term to kill al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan without risking American lives.

"Whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake. Look at how many people he has killed with drone attacks," said Haji Abdul Jabar, whose 23-year-old son was killed in such a bombing.

Analysts say anger over the unmanned aircraft may have helped the Taliban gain recruits, complicating efforts to stabilise the unruly border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could also hinder Obama's plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Obama authorised nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during his first four years in office, more than six times the number during the administration of George W Bush, according to the New America Foundation policy institute.

Since 2004, a total of 337 US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,908 and 3,225 people.

The institute estimates around 15 percent of those killed were non-militants, although that percentage has declined sharply to around 1-2 percent this year.

Washington says drone strikes are very accurate and cause minimal civilian deaths.

The Pakistani government says tens of thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in the fight against the Taliban insurgency.

Many were civilians caught in suicide bombings. Others were killed by the Pakistani army.

Hard to secure data on drone attacks

Getting accurate data on casualties and the effects of drones is extremely difficult since the government allows few foreigners into the tribal areas and the Taliban often seal off the sites of strikes.

While the aerial campaign has weakened al Qaeda, its ally, the Pakistani Taliban, remains a potent force despite a series of Pakistan army offensives against its strongholds in the northwest.

"We are amazed that Obama has been re-elected. But for us there is no difference between Obama and Romney; both are enemies. And we will keep up our jihad and fight alongside our Afghan brothers to get the Americans out of Afghanistan," said Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed the gates of the Sachal Rangers Headquarters in Karachi, killing at least one official and wounding more than a dozen people.

Pakistanis were largely indifferent in the run-up to Tuesday's election, expecting little change to the drone attacks regardless of whether Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney won.

"Any American, whether Obama or Mitt Romney, is cruel," said Warshameen Jaan Haji, whose neighbourhood was struck by a drone  last week, told Reuters on the eve of the election.

"I lost my wife in the drone attack and my children are injured. Whatever happens, it will be bad for Muslims."

For Khan, the February 2009 drone attack on his home left him as the main provider for 13 surviving family members, forcing him to move to Islamabad and work with a real estate company.

"When the Sandy hurricane came, I thought that Allah would wipe away America," he said. "America just wants to take over the world."


Sexton Blake | 8 years ago | Reply

@numbersnumbers: Dear numbers, You are obviously totally unaware of the horrific bombing campaign carried out by US/UK/French monsters who carried out their debauchery under the pseudonym of being air force personnel, after being called in by US introduced terrorists who were supposedly freedom fighters. I can send you the location of pictures which show the devastation, but then you would not believe the truth. Incidentally the so called popular Libyan Government, invented by the US, has not taken up residence in Libya to this point. They have not established enough security to move into Libya yet. They have taken up residence in Qatar, another US minion country. It is my understanding that the US are still attempting to subdue Libyan disgruntled residents who do not wish to have a US imposed Government.

numbersnumbers | 8 years ago | Reply

@lovePak: So Osama bin Laden was not killed in the May 2nd raid on his compound in Abbottabad, and just "some innocent residents" but then you say that "OBL is not alive to verify it's (memo) authenticity"!!! Wow, was he killed or wasn't he???? As for that 2% you keep avoiding, President Obama expanded the targets for the drone program to include all levels of the militant structure, so even militant "soldiers" are at risk, AND THEY KNOW IT!

Once again, where does it say that 98% of drone strike victims are "civilians"???

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