The drone issue is one that is quite evidently not going away very soon. It has come to the forefront again after the recent strike by an unmanned aircraft on what appeared to be a Taliban training centre in South Waziristan. Five persons were killed, others injured. As always, it is hard to determine the precise truth — but clearly, intelligence appears to have been good with the key militant target struck.
This is where the problem lies. Yes, the drone attacks are extremely controversial; they are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Thousands of people, including civilians, have been killed as a result. But the fact is that the drones also manage to seek out key persons or bases of militant operations. And till we are able to deal with such sites of militancy ourselves or take into custody key commanders of the Taliban and other groups linked to them, the drone strikes are almost certain to continue.
The controversy surrounding the whole affair has also cropped up again with former dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, in an interview to a foreign television channel, conceding that “on certain occasions” his administration had approved strategic strikes and given the go-ahead for them. The outgoing government has consistently denied any knowledge of the drones, however implausible this denial may be. Humanitarian issues are also involved. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned drone attacks and termed them especially problematic in a country like Pakistan where there is no armed conflict. Other organisations, too, including Amnesty International, have spoken out against the drones. The death of civilians caused by them is unacceptable. But it is also true that it is our government and other organisations within the country, which will need to come up with solutions and find some answers to the broader questions which exist. We must hope that the government that comes in after the elections has the capacity to make efforts in this direction and overcome the many complications that exist.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ