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Predator Strikes Stir anti-US "Hatred"
From a Friday, March 27, 2009 entry on Informed Comment a blog run by Juan Cole
As the Obama administration announces that it will send 4,000 further troops to Afghanistan to train the Afghan army, the USG Open Source Center translates a talks show from Islamabad that alleges that US predator drone strikes on Pakistan are increasing hatred of the US in Pakistan
Karachi Geo News television in Urdu at 1400 GMT on 25 March carrieslive regularly scheduled "Capital Talk" program relayed from channel's Islamabad studio. Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir is host of thepopular talk show in Pakistan. . .
Hamid Mir begins the discussion by saying that as soon as one crisis ends in Pakistan, another crisis emerges and Pakistanis have now learned to live with these crises. Mir adds: a day after the judiciary crisis ended on 16 th March, New York Times reported that America is now thinking about extending scope of Drone attacks to Baluchistan and David Kilcullen, adviser to CENTCOM Chief David Petraeus, told Washington Post on 24th March that "Pakistan can break up in next 6 months" and that "Army and Police do not listen to the government in Pakistan" and that "continuation of war on terror is in Pakistan's interest." Continuing, Mir says: yet another Drone attack has taken place in South Waziristan today. Mir adds: although America says that Drone attacks have many benefits, but "most Pakistani observers and a large majority of people believe that the so-called war on terror and Drone attacks have increased and not reduced terrorism in world."Mir says: there were 36 Drone attacks during Gen. Pervez Musharraf's rule, 38in 2008 and 9 so far this year in which about 500 people have been killed. Mir adds: America claims that many top Al-Qa'ida leaders have been killed in Droneattacks, but it has not provided any evidence of killing of Al-Qa'ida leaders. Continuing, Mir says: everybody knows that terrorism and "hatred against America" has increased in Pakistan due to the American policies. Mir says: if Drone attacks are continued, some other country will also find some excuse to carry out similar attacks on Pakistan.
Cont'd (click below or on "comments")
Mir asks Kaira whether Drone attacks will resolve issues faced by Pakistan or not. Kaira says the government has condemned Drone attacksfrom very first day it came to power and it has made it clear to the American administration that it will not be able to achieve its desirable objectives through these attacks. Kaira adds: this is true that "hatred toward America is increasing" throughout Pakistan, especially in tribal areas, due to Drone attacks. Continuing, Kaira says: it should be understood that unless foreign terrorists and extremists are not "isolated" from the local population,successes will not be achieved, and Drone attacks are not proving helpful in this context. Kaira adds: Pakistani troops are still operating in tribal areas and if a credible information is provided to them, they will act against terrorists and extremists because this is in Pakistan's own interest. Continuing,Kaira says: terrorists and extremists want to destabilize the government and political and financial institution of Pakistan and political forces shouldjoin hands to foil their agenda.
Mir plays part of the latest song of Shahzad Roy in which the singer calling for change of system in Pakistan is killed in a symbolic Drone attack at the end.
Mir asks Roy what is philosophy of his latest song and what message he wanted to convey to the nation through this song. Roy says many people seriously think that music cannot bring about change, but music cansurely play a part in changes needed in the system. Roy adds that he has also triedto tell through the song that nobody cares for "innocent, honest and poor"under-trial prisoners in Pakistani jails and in Guantanamo and the end of songshows in "good sense of humor" that a Drone attack kills the singer. On thesubject of Drone attacks, Roy says: Drone attacks are okay if terrorists arebeing killed in it, but "innocent" persons are also being killed in these attacks. Roy says: a commission should be set up to look at the cases of under-trial prisoners in Pakistani jails.
Mir asks Kaira why the government is not able to make America understand that a "//clean shaved singer//" like Shahzad Roy, who is neither Taliban nor an Al-Qa'ida member, is also protesting against America through his songs. Sidestepping the question, Kaira says he does not fully understand what exactly Roy wants to depict in his song, but the fact is that terrorists and extremists, some of whom are foreigners, cannot be allowed to take Pakistan's destiny into their own hands. Continuing, Kaira says: media and civil society definitely has a role in creating awareness in the society, butthey should also "give a hope" to people because only promoting "atmosphere of dejection" does not help the nation. When Mir intervenes to say Roy is notpromoting frustrations, he is "asking people to take their destiny in their own hands," Kaira says when people start making their own groups to fight for their own cause, the writ of state no more exists.
Roy says that he is not arguing that Drone attacks are right or wrong, but the fact is that these attacks are being carried out from outside Pakistan.
Mir establishes video link with Ahmer Bilal Sufi, prominent international law expert, and asks him whether there are other examples of Drone attacks and whether international law allows Drone attacks. Sufi says there are one or two examples of Drone attacks somewhere else than Pakistan andthere was a Drone attack in Yemen to target some alleged terrorists travelingin a van and there have been some Drone attacks in Gaza, but these attacks aremost frequent on Pakistan and that is why international law experts are viewingPakistan as a case study to find out whether there is any legal basis for theseattacks. Continuing, Sufi says: Article 24 of the UN Charter that there shouldbe no air and ground intervention in any state and, so, Drone's entry into any country's airspace itself tantamount to intervention and it is the violation ofUN principle of non-intervention and if it fires anything to cause loss of lifeor property, it obviously mans that the international law is being violated.Continuing, Sufi says: US Congress passed a resolution in 2001 authorizingmilitary action anywhere in the world against those terrorists who wereinvolved in 9/11, but that authorization is of US domestic law and there is no such authorization in international law. Mir asks whether any other countrycould also find encouragement in US Drone attacks to carry out similar attackson Pakistan. Sufi says: international experts are also studying the Pakistanigovernment's reaction and they believe that this reaction is "//muted//" and it is not "//categorical//" and "//clear//" and this lack of clarity is casting ashadow on the question of legality because it is being said that if the homestate where Drone attacks are being carried out openly expresses its consent,these attacks will get legal cover. Sufi adds: there is "//ambiguity//" inPakistan's position and its advantage is going to the debate of legality ofDrone attacks and that is why Drone attacks are being expanded. Sufi says: ifPakistan does not take a categorical stand against Drone attacks, othercountries like India will be encouraged to plan similar attacks on Pakistan.
Mir says Sean D. Murphy, professor at Georgetown University's Law School, in his paper to US Naval War College says that US military's cross border actions from Afghanistan into Pakistan are illegal.
Kaira says nobody is accepting the legality of Drone attacks, but superpowers do not act according to international law. Mir jumps in to ask why America is not able to impose its will on Iran or North Korea ofVenezuela, why on Pakistan alone. Kaira says: superpowers impose their will onmany states other than Pakistan. When Mir says Kaira should then say whetherAmerica is "Pakistan's friend or enemy," Kaira says all states are "friendly onlyto their own interests." Kaira adds: Pakistan's position is different from Iranbecause Iran is not "//harboring//" (elements hostile to America), whilePakistan is on "//allegedly harboring//" (list). When Mir says that Washington Post is reporting that attacks are being carried out with the Pakistan government's consent, Kaira asks why Washington Post's story should be believed.
Roy says more than 250,000 children die in Pakistan everyyear by drinking contaminated water and if the government is not able to solvesuch minor problem of providing safe drinking water to children, how could it claim that it will succeed in this "//all difficult// and very dangerous war//"(against terror) even with outside help.
Mir establishes telephonic contact with Raja Zafarul Haq,senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), to know his party's position on Drone attacks. Mir says it is publicly known that the PML-Ncondemns Drone attacks, but it is now being said that the PML-N is also readyto support the present government's policy on US-led war on terror and it isholding talks with high American officials in this connection. Haq says: thisis mere speculation and there is no truth in reports that the PML-N will endorse Gen. Pervez Musharraf's policy, which is also being continued by thepresent government, on Drone attacks. Continuing, Haq says: Pakistan governmentofficials themselves have state that Drone attacks are creating "hatred" towardAmerica and affecting efforts against terrorism and extremism and that is whyhow could PML-N endorse a policy which directly violates Pakistan's sovereignty and the UN charter.
Mir says the question is if the government cannot protect Pakistan's territory, how it could claim that it's the protector of Pakistan's security. Kaira says Parliament not Hamid Mir would decide whether Pakistan should go to war (with America on the issue of Drone attacks). Mir says: but the day parliament approves a resolution against Drone attacks, America "shredsit to pieces" by carrying out more attacks on which all Pakistanis are in"terrible throe." Kaira says he is also in terrible throe, but what is thesolution. Kaira adds: one solution is to make America understand the folly ofits policy of Drone attacks and another solution is to "//straightaway go for awar//." Mir says he is not suggesting war, but Drones could be shot down because the Pakistan air chief has stated that Drones could be shot down. Royjoins in to say if Kaira is in terrible throe because of Drone attacks, he should resign as federal minister. Kaira says his resignation will not make any difference, the main point is how do we prevent Drone attacks and the government is working in this direction.
Roy says Pakistan should take a stand like the one taken byIran without worrying for consequences.
Mir concludes the discussion by saying that the Parliament resolutions are not going to prevent Drone attacks because America does not care about Pakistan parliament's resolutions. Mir says: there is no justification in international law for repeated attacks on Pakistan's territory by a foreign power and if America claims that Drone attacks are killingAl-Qa'ida leaders, it should provide evidence to support its claim. Mir adds hehimself has visited the tribal areas and himself saw only the "bodies of womenand children and their graves" and this is not acceptable to him or any otherPakistani. Mir says: Pakistan's parliament now has to play a "decisive role" inthis connection.
. . . Guests:
Qamar Zaman Kaira, federal minister for information andbroadcasting and senior Pakistan People's Party leader
Shahzad Roy, prominent Pakistani playback singer--Mirintroduces Roy as "representative of civil society" in today's discussion
Ahmer Bilal Sufi, prominent international law expert, whojoins discussion via video link
Senator Raja Zafarullah, senior leader of Pakistan MuslimLeague-Nawaz Sharif, who joins discussion via telephone line Discussion on "increase in hatred" toward America due toDrone attacks
(Description of Source: Karachi Geo News TV in Urdu -- 24-hour satellite news TV channel owned by Pakistan's Jang publishing group. Known for providing quick and detailed reports of events. Geo's focus on reports from India is seen as part of its policy of promoting people-to-people contact and friendly relations with India.)