PAKISTAN: THE BIG DRONE DEBATE

PAKISTAN: THE BIG DRONE DEBATE

Pakistani anti-drone protesters

The dust has barely had time to settle on the compound in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan where Bin Laden was allegedly assassinated by Navy Seals earlier this week, when the US once again launched a drone attack on North Waziristan. Drones (unmanned aircraft) are used for surveillance and target killing of insurgents (Taliban and Al Qaeda) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by the US military. The Associated Press reported the deaths of 15 people in the latest incident including militants and at least one civilian as missiles damaged a restaurant and a nearby home.

America is encroaching on ever more dangerous territory entering Pakistani airspace with talk of the possibility that future drones may now be targeted for destruction by the Pakistan Air Force.

Last month Pakistanis gathered near Peshawar (capital of north western Khyber Paktunkhwa) in their droves to participate in a sit-in protest against the use of drones, an event initiated by former cricketer Imran Khan (58) leader of Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) political party. There is a growing anger over the number of civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes. In actions resembling a video game, America launches its weapons of “not so well targeted” destruction bearing names such as “Predator” and the ever grim “Reaper” on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region (AfPak) with aptly named Hellfire missiles. They certainly live up to their description wreaking destruction on villages across the region… however, since when has a 5 year old girl ever been identified as an insurgent!

Photos of the victims are emotive, three children lain side by side awaiting burial, a young boy minus two legs and an eye asking “why me”? The reality is, the people of FATA are stuck between a rock and a hard place, the Pakistan Army fighting the militants on one side and insurgents with a history of blowing up schools and target killing on the other. On top of that there is poverty and displacement due to the ongoing conflict. This article on Global Voices, Pakistan: The Fight Against The Taliban And The Drones captures the fear of being caught in the midst of such conflict and describes how boys as young as 14 often from impoverished backgrounds fall into the hands of Taliban, believing suicide attacks are the only route to paradise http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/04/24/pakistan-the-fight-against-the-taliban-and-the-drones/

I asked a source recently why he thought Taliban carry out target of civilians in the Tribal Areas… the answer was surprising… There were allegations that the CIA were paying local people for intelligence on the ground and that they were placing tracking “chips” in houses where there were no Taliban just to receive money. There is no way of knowing whether this is fact or propaganda and the Taliban are feared for their brutality but if it were correct, intelligence services exploiting people in such conditions of poverty would an act of extreme cruelty and immorality.

The issue of drones has become symbolic of political weakness in the country to many, the anger is not simply about deaths, there are those who feel that the Pakistan government is bowing to outside pressure from the U.S. and remains stuck in a “colonised” mindset. WikiLeaks (whistleblower website) highlighted cables from former US Ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, revealing that during a 2006 meeting with Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistani prime minister, he brushed aside concerns about the use of Predator drones against targets in the Tribal Areas… this does not go down well with the people http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8172922/Wikileaks-Pakistan-privately-approved-drone-strikes.html

Khan and his followers appear to have had enough of complacency and as a result of their sit-in were able to temporarily block supply convoys ferrying goods to North Atlantic Organization Treaty (NATO) troops in Afghanistan. Truckers also joined the protest parking up their tankers and trailers in solidarity with the ordinary civilians of Pakistan. Speaking to DAWN, Ashraf Khan Khalil, senior vice president of Sahar Good Transport had this to say, “we are Pakistanis and have the same feelings like others against the killing of innocent people in drone attacks. We are ready to even support a strike longer than two days”.

Hundreds of drivers and cleaners are known to have lost their lives on the treacherous route from Karachi to Afghanistan as they are subjected to attacks along the way, with their vehicles often torched. To add insult to injury, drivers then have to allegedly pay bribes to border police. Khan has vowed to continue his mission to halt drone attacks declaring that he and fellow protestors “would block supplies for NATO in other areas if drone attacks are not stopped within one month.” They would also take their protest in a “long march” to Islamabad.

The result of the two days protest was the Peshawar Declaration as detailed below:-

Peshawar Declaration

April 24, 2011

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf congratulates the people of Pakistan for their massive participation which is a reflection of the nation’s consensus that demands an end to the murderous drone attacks resulting in innocent loss of life characterized by the UN as extra judicial killings. The momentous Peshawar Dharna was the first public show of resolve on the road to regaining Pakistan’s lost sovereignty. 

At the conclusion of the Dharna the people unanimously, by a show of hands, passed the Peshawar Declaration which demands of the Government of Pakistan the following:

  1. To immediately implement the joint resolution of Parliament on the “War on Terror.”
  2. To end the hippocratic double faced policy and bring before parliament all past and present agreements/understandings with the US government on the “war on terror.” 
  3. The PTI demands of the Supreme Court to urgently hear the drone attacks petition filed by the PTI and hold a judicial inquiry under the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to ascertain the legitimacy of the drone attacks under our Constitution and also determine the scale of human loss and establish scope of compensation to the victims and their families.
  4. To ensure immediate access of media and human rights organizations to FATA to independently assess the human and material losses suffered by the people due to the drone attacks.
  5. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also demands of the Supreme Court to urgently hear the petition filed by the PTI regarding the drone attacks.

In case drone attacks continue and these demands are not met by the government, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf demands:

  1. The resignation of this government which has failed to protect the life and liberty of its citizens, and
  2. The PTI shall with the support of the people block all supply routes of NATO trucks to Afghanistan

http://insaf.pk/News/tabid/60/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/6236/Concluding-Resolutions-of-PTI-Dharna.aspx

During the protest there were simultaneous messages of support calling for further action on Twitter and social networking site Facebook and group pages springing up with an anti-drone message. There was also a demonstration at Syracuse’s Hancock Airforce Base with activists draped in white cloth splurged in red paint to resemble blood. The protest was organised by the Upstate Coalition to Ground The Drones and End The Wars. Channel 9 detailed 37 arrests naming the demonstrators. Shelley Lovelace, one of those involved gave her reason for participating, “I’m part of this because I believe that war is never a good idea, but I believe that making it seem easy and remote makes it all the more dangerous – not only to the people who we’re dropping bombs on but also to the people who are choosing to drop the bombs.”

A recent internal study by the Ministry of Defence stated that, “the growing use of unmanned aircraft (drones) in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings” Guardian 17th April 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/17/terminators-drone-strikes-mod-ethics Nowhere can this dilemma be demonstrated more clearly than in the border areas of AfPak. Drones are operated remotely from Creech airbase, Nevada and other sites dividing observers and bringing into question issues of military funding, target killing of alleged militants, the accidental killing of civilians known as “collateral damage”, sovereignty (who is accountable for authorising unmanned aerial vehicle attacks, (UEVs)  and more recently legal issues regarding compensation for victims. (A brief history of the use of drones can be found in the recent article by Ayesha Zee Khan, Drones: Death and Destruction in the Islamabad Times… http://www.islamabadtimesonline.com/drones-death-and-destruction/  )

Syed Saleem Shahzad, my colleague at website Asia Despatch, highlighted the case of the first litigant Karim Khan who lost both his son, 18 year old Zain Uddin and brother Asif Iqbal (32) after his home in North Waziristan came under fire. Salem has interviewed both Karim and his lawyer, Barrister Shahzad Akbar and was informed that a legal notice has been issued to American authorities for compensation of $500 million  dollars.

The American administration argues that drones attacks are necessary and have proven successful in destroying militant targets and weakening leadership. There have certainly been notable deaths including Baitullah Mehsud, former leader of the Pakistan Taliban and Qari Hussain Mehsud among the founding members of Tehrik- e –Taliban (TTP) who ran a group suicide squad commonly known in militant ranks as Ustad – e – Fidayeen, trainer of the suicide bombers. (He was known for his ruthlessness and was also alleged to have trained child suicide bombers). According to Asia Times Online, “the frequency of the operations against Qari Mehsud were said to have increased after the deadly suicide attack he helped orchestrate on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost.” http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ27Df02.html

The death of Qari Mehsud was recently discussed with Ihsanalluh Tipu Mehsud, journalist at Asia Despatch, who was told on condition of anomynity by a member of the Taliban that “we couldn’t announce his death in order to avoid a possible downturn within our ranks as we were in preparation to take on security forces in Mehsud inhabited South Waziristan.” It appears though that however many insurgents are killed there are always more willing recruits to take their place. The Americans are quick to announce fatalities to justify the use of drones and do sometimes hit the intended targets. Hamza Ameer, Asia Despatch recorded that 17 insurgents were killed in one day alone as they “targeted vehicles and compounds carrying alleged militants who may be belonging to Haqqani network, a group declared as the greatest threat by the United States, operating inside Pakistan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan” http://www.asiadespatch.com/2010/12/2340/  However the Americans missed the mark with their strike against prime target Hakimullah Mehsud, current leader of the TTP who “rose from the dead” last year and later popped up defiant in a video ordering the execution of Colonel Imam, commando- guerrilla warfare specialist said to have been close to Mullah Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban.

The Guardian reported David Cameron in December claiming that “British drones had killed 124 insurgents in Afghanistan since June 2008” and hailed them as a “classic example of a modern weapon which is necessary for today’s war”. Figures suggest that 18 out of 20 people killed in drone attacks are in fact civilians. President Barak Obama has surpassed his predecessor George W. Bush  by increasing the number of strikes and consequently the number of civilians that have been “accidently killed” in the Tribal Areas has risen. One case which drew widespread condemnation from both civilian and military leadership was an attack on a jirga (meeting of tribal leaders) in the Nevi Ada Shega region of North Waziristan where 40 civilians lost their lives. DAWN reported that, “Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has strongly condemned the drone attack and said it will only strengthen hands of radical and extremist elements” and that “such an irrational behaviour negatively impacts efforts to separate militants from peaceful and patriotic tribesmen of the areas” http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/18/rare-condemnation-by-pm-army-chief-40-killed-in-drone-attack.html

The Pakistan military seems divided on the issue. Pakistan Army Chief, General Asfaq Kayani went on record condemning the jirga attack which killed more than three dozen people including tribal elders. On the other hand, Major General Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7TH Division North Waziristan has recently produced a leaflet for journalists… the Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes labelling two points “1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners, ‘while civilian casualties are few’. 2) By scaring the local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=42073&Cat=9&dt=4/17/2011 Such actions are likely to fuel speculation once again as to who is the paymaster and who is the servant.

I doubt that this information leaflet would impress shepherd Reshan Khan who lost 15 members of his extended family that were blown to pieces in a drone attack. DAWN reported that, “he stares into the distance blankly when asked to describe that day. His brother, Mulaqat, has to recount the tragedy because he is still too traumatized, to speak at length”….The newspaper described how “shortly after the strike, the 52-year-old father of six sunk into a deep depression and lost alarming amounts of weight. Then he started imagining things.”

There is a sense that the situation is coming to a head with the recent visit of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Military in the Pakistani capital Islamabad for talks with the Pakistani leadership. High on the agenda was US drone strikes and the use of covert CIA operatives in the region following the Raymond Davis case. Davis, a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi after they allegedly tried to hijack his car. There was outrage throughout the country when the relatives of victims accepted blood money and a certain irony felt that the US were happy to adopt aspects of Sharia law when it suited them.

There has been one move from the US under mounting criticism and that was to withdraw military personnel from Shamsi airbase in Balochistan which is said to be a base for launching attacks against insurgents… however it is argued that the US can simply move operations outside of Pakistan’s borders without ceasing its mission to kill.

Mullen has warned the American people that this year will be a tough year in Afghanistan and that the Taliban has stepped up operations and there could be significant losses for troops http://tribune.com.pk/story/153011/mullen-to-raise-spy-concerns-with-pakistan-top-brass/  Protestors in the US are also raising questions regarding the cost of war operations at a time of cutbacks and a tightening of belts.

There are worries too from Pakistanis that their government may now have purchased the technology to launch its own drone attacks in which case the strikes could continue and the US military would still in a sense be in a position of control by pressurising the Pakistan government to carry out target killing by proxy to suit their agenda for the “war on terror”. Not much comfort there then for villagers in the tribal regions to learn that they could now be killed by Pakistani owned drone technology as opposed to American weaponry…So what do ordinary people want?…The cry over and over again that I hear is for a quiet existence. They want the swift withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and for American to stop entering Pakistani airspace (with or without support from Pakistani authorities). Quite simply they want a NO DRONE ZONE!

LINKS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmjeonoWgUg

http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/24/transporters-suspend-nato-supplies-to-join-pti-protest.html

http://www.9wsyr.com/news/local/story/37-anti-drone-protesters-arrested-near-Hancock/BtPwDH7mxkKEh8rJPRI7XA.cspx

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/US-exits-key-drone-operations-base-in-Pakistan–Report/780268/

Carol Grayson is Director Co-ordination Asia Despatch and a UK researcher /campaigner on global health/human rights awarded ESRC Michael Young Prize 2009

Copyright 2011

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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20 Responses to PAKISTAN: THE BIG DRONE DEBATE

  1. Taha bin Sohail says:

    I am not so sure that your words would be listened by the establishment of any country… but I am sure that a lot of people will turn their views against drone attacks after reading all these facts. In this so called war against, to change the perception really does matter. I hope this effort brings something very good to you.

    • Thanks Taha… as the old saying goes… “information is power”… It depends whether the “establishment” on all sides are willing to rethink their actions and make positive moves towards peace… sometimes this calls for creative thinking … are they up to the job… at the end of the day they are servants of the people and must not forget this…!!!

  2. oso says:

    what an excellent, well researched and linked article. Thank you for increasing my knowledge of this horror.

    • Thanks Oso… I apreciate your comment as sometimes we only see a very limited view of events in some mainstream press… this makes it diffucult for people to make informed decisions on issues…

  3. A very insightful read Carol!

    • Thanks Sultan… I think this issue has become symbolic for the Pakistani people in maintaining control within their own country…in addition to the anger and distress generated by drone attacks striking civilians and that this has further increased with the US entering Pakistani airspace to “take out” Bin Laden…

  4. You seem well aware of the ground realities of this extremely complex region of the world which is a hotbed of tribal warfare and terrorism directed at innocent civilians. Instead of providing development and progress to this area, the US and its pawn, the Pakistani government, is busy bringing death and destruction. What a way to treat people who are extremely simple, hospitable and generous. I hope the imperialist terrorism comes to an end soon and the region becomes a hotbed of peace and prosperity.

    Do you have any information on what was the Taliban’s response to the killing of Col. Imam?

    • Thanks Moign…well I try to keep my ears to the ground and hear all sides of the debate and have reliable sources. Yes the politics of the region are extremely complex…and sometimes fuelled by rumour, propaganda and conspiracy theories whereas I want to ascertain facts as far as it is possible. I also prefer to make up my own mind as opposed to being fed a limited line by some mainstream media… Terrorism is generated by individuals and states and decades of extremely flawed foreign policy…those who suffer are the ordinary civilians that are stuck in the middle and targeted from all sides.. I am very saddened to see that and believe that Pakistan has much to offer if it can route out corrupt politicians, foreign interference and those who play on both sides of the fence… I condemn violence but believe the danger increases when we close down avenues of communication (which may appear controversial) but are often necessary…

      I am somewhat confused by the killing of Col Imam…I did see the video released. There were some allegations that he may have been passing on information which compromised Taliban… but I have been unable to verify that. I would ask that question directly given the chance… I am also not sure whether the family themselves evenually received the body…

  5. i am not surprised of your wise thoughts Carol,since follow and know you on FB!! my positive energy and support is with you, you have been amazing and i respect you and your respect for humanity is beyond words!! you are an impression of true humanity ! i wish there was much people to think for common as you do!blessed dear! 🙂
    Mirza

    • Thank-you Mirza for your kind words, they are appreciated. There is something very frightening and disturbing ..that a person can remotely perform an action that will “incinerate beyond recognition” a human being thousands of miles away. If an individual is suspected of insurgency surely they must be brought before a court to see if there is justification for the claim. The tragedy is that many of those killed are not involved in insurgency, they are ordinary people going about their daily lives, families including children!

  6. Muhammad Atta says:

    The Pakistani’s ought to put themselves in our places. What IF an American had thought that GOD had called him to destroy Islamic Pakistan and he had used the Christian faith to mobilize and attack Muslim targets in Pakistan and all over the globe. And, what if, this American religious zealot had succeeded in killing thousands and thousands of innocent Pakistanis in Karachi or Islamabad and then established a ‘base’ in India and border regions of Indian Kashmir whereby he was welcomed and revered by the ignorant ‘masses’ as a prince of God. And, what if, Pakistan troops could not invade these areas to rid themselves of this KILLER of Islamic innocents because India and Christians worldwide could potentially erupt in violent reactions against Muslims living in their lands. And, what if, this killer of Muslim men & women & children was HIDING in the mist of Indian tribes who had welcomed HIM and his followers with OPEN ARMS and quietly provided ‘funding, arms, and safe houses’ for HIM and his cut-throat Christian followers as well as those Christians who came by the thousands from all over America, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Europe to fight the infidel Muslim peoples of Pakistan. And, what if, Pakistan had the technological capacity to ‘hunt down and destroy’ these Muslim killers by using DRONES that enabled Pakistan to go after HIM and his hard-core leaders and vicious followers in these Indian tribal areas. Do you actually THINK that anyone in democratic Pakistan would THINK it was WRONG to kill ‘innocent’ Indian women and children in India or Kashmir in the HUNT for this MAN and his cut-throat field commanders. The answer is simply NO!!! They would ALL view these ‘innocent’ Indians as accomplices and complicit and, in fact, in the killing of innocent Muslim people all over the globe.

    Until Pakistan can VIEW themselves through the EYES of Christians and the secular people of the WEST (who were being targeted and butchered for being Christian mostly), they will be the RIDICULE of the Western world for their continued ignorance and stupidity (and rightfully so).

    • Thanks for your comment… we should all work on the ability to see through the eyes of the “other”. What happened on 9/11 was an abomination and equally hundreds of thousands have died as a result of US abominations for decades. US foreign policy has supported dictators across the world that have suppressed and tortured ordinary civilians…who cared or objected to that… very few.

      The US has endorsed hegemony… and if we are talking numbers killed… America has killed far more of its own people through exploitation and corporate greed than were ever killed in 9/11 and tried to cover up these deaths… yet I don’t see people speaking out on this…in fact many are unaware of the facts…

      Sadly that is the hypocracy of so called democracy!!!

      • Muhammad Atta says:

        And thanks to your reply commment….and Muslims have killed millions in their quest to spread Islamic hegemony all over the globe since it’s inception. Spreading Islam and the Caliphate system of rule at the ‘point of the sword & knife’ and ‘beheading it’s enemies’ and then calling other non-Islamic peoples ‘infidels’ only shows the true nature of Islamic hegemony.

        And then putting Islamic ‘markers’ like the Dome of the Rock over where ‘Jesus footprints’ were said to still exist or the Al Aqsa Mosque built over where ‘King David’ prayed or the Aleppo Mosque in Syria built over where ‘John the Baptist’ father is buried or the Cordoba Mosque in Spain built over a Christain church, or building the Islamic Blue Mosque in Turkey over the older Christian Churches and leaving ‘Islamic messages’ in Arabic warning Christians/Jews.

        Now, the well-financed radical Muslims in America want to build the Cordoba House (Mosque) near the site of the Twin Towers in New York to ‘mark’ at the site of their perceived ‘conquest’ of America. No, today’s Muslim leaders are NO different than the old Muslim leaders of past. They just believe that ‘oil wealth’ of the Saudi’s has given them the opportunity to reclaim their LOST glory of old, reinstitute the Caliphate system, and to continue spreading Islam at the point of a gun or knife. What ‘true religion’ does this?

        It’s says in the Bible and other Christian works to ‘judge’ a person’s (or nation’s) intent by the actions to determine their true character. Yes, we do support Israel because the Bible ‘commands’ us to always support God’s chosen people…the Israelites and Jesus, himself, was a Jew. Jesus was NOT a murderer like Mohammad and his early followers who ‘ruled’ by vicious conquest through the point of a sword or knife. So, how can the world ever ‘trust the word’ of a murderer like Mohammad or Islam. We’ve already seen (again in this day and age) what they do when people don’t do as they command….they behead them like the butchers they truly are. No, Islam is CANNOT be a true religion. The slaughter of innocent men, women, and children in Mumbai on shows the true face of Islam…..a wolf in sheep’s clothings.

  7. Thank-you for your comments…however they do not address the killing of civilians through drones and are racist and Islamophobic…. to quote you “Islam is CANNOT be a true religion”…

    In Islam Jesus is considered to be a messenger of God… There is also a counter arguement for all the religious sites that you mention…

    The mosque you refer near Ground Zero was mainly planned as a community centre and was intended to encourage the bringing together of both Muslims and non-Muslims however those with other agendas chose to misinterpret… supported by press that frequently bow to the Zionist lobby…

    There are extremists from many different groups within society and religious backgrounds…

    If you wish to discuss massacres you could mention Nakba (day of catastrophe) when Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes, people are remembering this today in fact… http://www.palestineremembered.com/ …this occurred BEFORE 9/11

    There was also the bombing of the King David Hotel by Jewish terrorists dressed as Arabs, a militant right wing zionist organisation Irgun that murdered many people of different nationalities and maimed others… BEFORE 9/11 IRGUN WERE CONSIDERED A TERRORIST ORGANISATION by the UN and British and US governments…

    Then there is the massacre of Sabra and Shatila terrible attrocities committed BEFORE 9/11 “In 1982, an independent commission chaired by Sean MacBride concluded that the Israeli authorities or forces were, directly or indirectly, responsible. The Israeli government established the Kahan Commission to investigate, and in early 1983 it found Israel indirectly responsible for the event. Ariel Sharon was held personally responsible for allowing the Phalangists into the camps.”

    Now there is the day to day dehumanisation and brutality committed against Palestinians that live under Occupation… I view the horrific photographs of burnt, mutilated and decapitated men, women and children on a regular basis… very disturbing…

    This brings me back to the issue of drone strikes on Afghanistan/Pakistan which produces the same horrific result… burnt, mutilated and decapitated men, women and children, civilians incinerated beyond recognition…

    Perhaps we could return to debating the topic of the article… if you wish to discuss further…

  8. Muhammad Atta says:

    thanks for you reply….but I previously addressed and debated for the continued use of Drones to go after Transnational ‘terror’ organizations like Al-Qaeda and the other nearly 3 dozens (no less than 32) extremist groups that reside in Pakistan and the tribal areas near Afghanistan and Kashmir who have routinely ‘massacred’ innocent civilians (both Christian and Muslim) living in Pakistan and innocent Hindus living in India and Kashmir. You ‘gladly’ mention of massacres or ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israeli Jews against Muslims in the last 60-70 years but where is your outrage against Muslim atrocites against Jews, Christians, and secular peoples since 622 A.D..

    Islam has been at ‘jihad or war’ with the non-Islamic world since it’s inception. It was ONLY after Europeans fought back via their ‘7 different Crusades from 1095 to 1291’ did this Muslim onslaught of it’s neighbors (who had not yet been defeated by the Caliphates’s huge armies) finally slow down but only for awhile. The Ottoman Turks resumed the Muslim onslaught for over 600 years against Christian Europe and the Far East until the Ottoman Empire finally collapsed in 1922. Where is your outrage that Pakistani soldiers raped up to 250,000 Bangali women in 1971 after they massacred 3,000,000 unarmed civilians when their religious leader decreed that Bangladeshis are un-Islamic.

    Don’t you SEE the connection yet?? Calling me a racist or Islamophobic does NOT change the above history of Islam. This is why the prison guards in Islamic regime of Iran rape the women and then after calling them apostates and the enemies of Allah. You, as a woman, would have NO rights if you lived in Afghanistan or any other terrority that instituted the Islamic Sharia Law. You would NOT be educated, allowed to work, or even walk in the park without a male family member. You’d be ‘covered’ from head-to-toe and could be ‘traded’ like cattle to a village elder or bartered to some other tribal leader for future ‘favors’.

    What do you think the Arab Spring is frock full of women???

  9. I do not “gladly” mention ANY massacre whoever commits it against whichever persons… and I have and do write and speak out against these atrocities…One example is the continuation of human rights abuses to this day in Kashmir. Equally I have addressed groups regarding the atrocities of the Final Solution after visiting Auschwitz and other memorial sites in Europe and regularly refer to the Nuremburg code on questions of ethics… including as supporting evidence within a Public Inquiry setting….

    To return to Indian Kashmir I witnessed the oppressive and brutal actions of the Indian State/army against Muslims in Kashmir on a visit to the region and so it continues today…the thousands of allegations of rape and torture… I condemn rape whether it be against women in Bengal or American soldiers perpetrating such crimes in Iraq…again the photos are distressing to view! I regularly campaign for gender justice and believe the best way to achieve this is open dialogue with both sexes… and frequently address these issues amongst all sections of the community…

    If you are familiar with insurgency in AfPak area then you will probably know the history and the hypocracy…past CIA training and support to Bin Laden and others against the Russians… let’s remind ourselves also that so impressed was Ronald Reagan with the “freedom fighters” of Afghanistan he dedicated the Space shuttle Colombia to them in 1982!

    I am not going to consign 1,000 or more years of Islamic or Christian, or Jewish or any other religion’s history to a debate on a blog…it would hardly do the subject justice…and I am trying to deal as much as possible with the here and now… Again though there are counter arguements… that show Muslims, Christians and Jews and other religions co-existing side by side for many years… and also oppression of Muslims going back centuries… one example being in Russia… I have lived amongst all religions over the years in many different countries and cultures…so work also from life experience…

    There are human rights issues against women in all cultures whether it be oppression within feudal systems or underage girls traded as sex workers in western cities. I speak out against both. Regarding Womens Right in the Arab World… The Arab Spring produced the Million Women March in Egypt supported by many men against a regime propped up by western governments where abuse and torture of both sexes was a regular occurance… Women across the Arab world have been very vocal marching alongside the men…writing informative blogs, filming events… again some press do not always record these facts…

    Re Sharia… as with all laws there are sometimes different interpretations… There are official sharia courts already in the UK that co-exist alongside British law and deals with civil cases… http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4749183.ece. I am not wishing to get into a veil debate… its personal choice as is a nun choosing to wear a habit…

    Again this is going off track from the drone debate which you don’t seem keen to address…

  10. Muhammad Atta says:

    I’d be very accurate to say that most people in America and the civilized world which includes India, Russia, Western Europe, etc. etc. ‘100% support’ the continued drone attacks against all ‘safe havens’ where Islamic Jihadists hide and plan their next moves. It is their ‘cowardly decision’ to hide amongst innocent women and children whether it’s in Pakistan or Yemen or any other safe haven. It is a well-known ‘guerilla tactic’ used for hundreds of years by Islamic extremists & Communist guerillas. They routinely hide among non-combatants so innocent people (i.e. women and children) killed by their antagonists can be used in a media campaign by their Leaders to gain public sympathy in the world press by ‘bleeding’ liberals and pacifists. And, you, are the perfect example of a person and/or organization being ‘used’ by them to ‘win’ the battle of minds of public opinion in Pakistan. What you don’t realize is that the ‘alternative’ is to invade the Northwest Terroritories in Pakistan to clean out these ‘nests’ of extremists. Is that what you would prefer over drone strikes? More bloodshed? That what it sounds like to me. You and other journalists just want to ‘flame the fires’ of public opinion to start yet another war so you can ‘continue to write’ articles and make a nice living doing your craft of spreading bogus truth. So, keep ‘flaming the fires’ in Pakistan and America leaders will give you your next war if Pakistan’s government keeps providing ‘safen havens’ for these vicious killers and Islamic fascists.

  11. Thank-you for your comment…I find your name interesting… your e-mail is down as NOT Mohammad Atta…VERY CLEVER! Firstly it depends on your definition of who is “civilized”… THE CIVILIANS THAT ARE BEING KILLED ARE OFTEN UNRELATED AND UNCONNECTED TO INSURGENTS…Do you think every person in the Tribal Region is a militant? The propaganda that is being spread regarding this issue is not unexpected as it allows America to explain away “collateral damage” when the drones strike men, women and children that are clearly non-combatants.

    Your assumptions are incredible…me making a nice living… I am a widow whose husband and brother in law were killed due to US policy. I have had years to form my own independent decision on the actions of America and its allies… and in actual fact, do not make a penny from my articles. I am not “used” as you put it by anyone…I write to educate and give alternative perspectives…and also work from life experience, choosing to write for alternative independent media, turning down lucrative opportunities that I could have taken on the back of my awards.

    You see you are wrongly assuming my motivation is money…far from it…

    Populations do often BLINDLY SUPPORT GOVERNMENTS if they do not have the full facts to hand… tide of opinion can change when they do…as happened with Vietnam…what a disastrous mstake that was… ALL THOSE AMERICAN SOLDIERS KILLED FOR NOTHING…so sad…

    From what I am hearing most Pakistanis want the US to keep off its soil…as US interference is greatly increasing bloodshed…

    If America is not careful it could find itself confronted by a strong and developing Asian and Central Asian “block” in opposition… I see India has just rejected jet deal with the US…

    America has spread more bloodshed around the world than any other country I know…

  12. @Muhammad Atta in hell…(I believe thats your full name on blog)… your most recent comments (not published) 1) have turned into personal attacks on my family and I and 2) are not addressing the subject on the blog. I find them highly offensive. If in the future you can stick to the subject in question and refrain from personal insults, perhaps we can continue our debate…

  13. click says:

    I Am Going To have to return again whenever my course load lets up – nonetheless I am getting your Rss feed so i can go through your blog offline. Cheers.

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