“the government will have to bear the burden of any terror attack that follows now as a result of its vacillation on ending drones and commencing dialogue”
Shireen Mazari (PTI)
The action taken by Imran Khan and Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaf is clearly getting to the Nawaz Sharif government that appears impotent on drones. In terms of action, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PMLN are a big flop with Shireen Mazari (PTI Central Information Secretary). She responded to Minister Pervaiz Rashid’s recent tirade against Imran Khan stating, “clearly, the Minister seems to have lost his marbles after being unnerved by the success of the PTI’s call for NATO supplies’ blockade.”
PMLN was accused by Mazari of silently backtracking on its electoral commitments and against its manifesto. While Khan was firing on all cylinders during an anti-drone protest at Peshawar drawing in a crown of thousands on Saturday, Nawas Sharif”s response to drones is an ineffective dribble as he gives one message to the Pakistani people and another to President Obama.
Showing considerably more balls than the government, Mazari said, “it is becoming evident that the Prime Minister gave some covert understandings to the Obama Administration which has now resulted in utter confusion within the ranks of the PMLN”. She highlighted divisions within the government on drone policy and alleged PMLN was lying to the people about stopping drones while quietly supporting the US.
PTI and Stop the War anti-drone campaigners assembled in London at the week-end to vent their outrage at the killing of civilians and call for an immediate end to drone strikes. Protesters carried coffins symbolic of the destruction caused by drones from Downing Street (where a petition was handed in to the Prime Minister David Cameron) to the US Embassy. The petition called for the UK government to,
“publicly disclose the facts and legal basis for drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and information about any investigation into killings by US drones; ensure prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all cases; and bring those responsible for unlawful drone strikes to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to death penalty”
Ex ISI chief Javed Ashraf Qazi attempted to justify drone strikes in Pakistan by issuing a list of 37 Al-Qaeda & Taliban commanders killed in drone strikes. However Abdullah Khan of the Conflict Monitoring Centre, Islamabad was swift to point out the high numbers of civilian casualties stating, “if we follow his thoughts then there should be drone attacks in Islamabad if CIA finds a suspected militant here.”
Mazari claimed that the confusion and indecision within the government is making the security situation more acute and feared that a weak and confused government would increase the chances of terrorist attacks.
She also questioned the slow response to the sighting of US drones prior to missiles being fired on Hangu region and why on Sunday 23rd November when drones where spotted again that there was no response from government. The question on many people’s lips including Mazari is who aided and abetted the recent drone strike on Hangu? She reminded people that some in Pakistan are slaves for dollars so continue their subservience to US government.
CNBC reported the that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has submitted an adjournment motion in Senate against Hangu missile strike submitted by Raza Tabani and are calling for an immediate debate on the latest attack on a settled area.
An ISPR government press release today (5th Nov) announced Pakistan’s own drone development programme as follows :-
“Pakistan today inducted the 1st fleet of indigenously developed Strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), namely Burraq and Shahpar UAV Systems in Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force. It is a landmark and historic event, wherein a very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the Armed Forces.
In the future these UAVs could also be gainfully employed in various socio-economic development projects, as well”
Surely than as Pakistan is developing its own drone initiative this is another reason to say no to US drones..
Meanwhile as the government appears incapable of taking action to bring down US drones, PTI supporters continue to stop trucks and block NATO supply line. That action has not come without criticism though with some claiming drivers being checked for documents are being “roughed up”. However PTI’s Peshawar general secretary Younus Zaheer Mohmand told Dawn media, “the sit-ins will continue till the US halts drone attacks in Pakistan. We have clearly instructed our workers not to cause inconvenience to the transporters who were not supplying goods to NATO forces in Afghanistan. All commercial trucks can cross the border without any hindrance.”
The only thing the Pakistan government appears to be firing at the moment is blanks. One suspects that PMLN having failed to perform will now close its eyes, simply roll over and go back to sleep!
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.