Secret Strategy behind Drone Attacks
By Sajjad Shaukat: Majority of our political experts see CIA-operated drone attacks in Pakistan in isolation, while these are co-related with other subversive activities, which have perennially been taking place in various regions as part of the US secret strategy against the country.
When in the past, the elected government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had signed the peace agreement with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), US had opposed it, and had accelerated predator strikes so as to castigate it. As a result, Pakistan faced dire consequences because TTP not only suspended peace agreement, but also occupied Swat, Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas. In that backdrop, Pakistan’s armed forces successfully ejected the TTP militants out of these regions. And leader of the TTP Maulvi Fazlullah who has close connections with Pakistan-based TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, had run to Afghanistan. Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, his insurgents intensified subversive activities in Pakistan by sending suicide bombers and heavily-equipped militants in the country. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership lodged a strong protest with their counterparts in Afghanistan, but no action was taken against these terrorists. Besides, Kabul also rejected Islamabad’s demand to hand over Maulvi Faqir, former deputy commander of the TTP to Pakistan along with four other accomplices who were from Pakistan’s tribal areas, and had been arrested by Afghan security forces in February 2013.
In fact, in order to fulfill collective covert designs of India, Israel and US, TTP has been given a free hand by these countries to continue acts of sabotage in Pakistan because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. In this regard, Pak-China strategic ties and Pak-Iranian close friendship also irritate them.
In these terms, America has been acting upon a secret strategy against Pakistan by continuing drone attacks. While the newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for an end to predator strikes, but on June 7, this year a US drone attack killed six persons in North Waziristan. After the results of elections 2013, Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which have now formulated their governments had repeatedly favoured peace dialogue with the TTP and to make efforts to stop attack by the spy planes. While during election campaign, TTP which conducted terror attacks on the leaders and election-sites of other political parties such as ANP, MQM and PPP had said that it will not target PML-N and PTI as these are liberal parties. But ambitions of the newly-elected government received a greater blow when on May, 29 2013; US pilotless aircraft killed four men in North Waziristan.
In this context, US State Department stated that Wali-ur-Rehman, the TTP second in command was killed in a drone attack on a tip off provided by an informer from Hakimullah Mehsud group. This has been a grave blow to Wali-ur-Rehman’s faction of TTP, while Hakimullah Mehsud succeeded in eliminating his major opponent in TTP. Notably, killing of Wali-ur-Rehman has been an outcome of split between TTP high command and Hakimullah Mehsud who is responsible for the death of Wali-ur-Rehman.
The new leader Khan Saeed alias Sajna hailing from Mehsud tribe of Shobikhel must realise that their leader has been eliminated by Hakimullah Mehsud group to get the award of $5million from US. The US State Department refused to disclose the real name of informer belonging Hakimullah group, however, it confirmed that the award will be paid. In the past, Hakimullah Mehsud made numerous attempts to kill Wali-ur-Rehman and this time his plot succeeded by providing information to CIA about his location.
Nevertheless, TTP has lost the visionary leader who had supported to start negotiations with the newly-elected government of Pakistan to reach a peace accord and bring peace in the country. But under the pretext of drone attacks, Hakimullah Mehsud who has clandestine connections with CIA withdrew its offer of having peace talks with the elected government. On the other hand, US President Barack Obama who has recently stated that America will continue these strikes on Pakistan also seeks to create obstacle in the way of any peace process between the TTP and Pakistan Government as his policy remains to destabilise our country through subversive acts.
Repercussions of these predator strikes and the coming ones are dangerous for Pakistan as the entire nation now expects retaliation from TTP terrorists who would create difficult challenges for the newly-elected government of the country. It means, in connivance with CIA, TTP-led by Hakimullah Mehsud, which has already started terror-attacks in some places of Pakistan would re-commence suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and assaults on security forces’ check posts including sectarian violence.
These strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which continued on Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified under the Obama era.
As regards civilian casualties, on August 11, 2011, a report of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said, “The Guardian published some of the pictures, we have obtained…as many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years.” While rejecting CIA’s false claim, the report disclosed, “It is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”
A story published in the Washington Post recently, pointed out the deaths of more civilians than militants by these drone machines. For example, it disclosed that on June 3, 2012, the US spy planes killed one militant commander and 20 innocent people in Pakistan’s region of North Waziristan.
Details collected by the Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties are higher as indicated by the US officials in this respect. In the last four years, more than 900 innocent civilians and only 20 Al Qaeda commanders have been murdered by the US spy planes.
Although President Obama and his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan have defended attacks by the CIA-controlled unmanned planes by justifying their success in eliminating Al Qaeda militants, yet these strikes are proving counterproductive for Pakistan.
While, addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2012, President Asif Ali Zardari said, “Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle” against terrorism.
In fact, American such a duplicity contans many other covert designs. Now, US seeks to incite the Haqqani network as in the past 18 months, most of these strikes have targeted the North Waziristan. Besides, America wants to provoke the tribal people against Pakistan’s security forces, and to increase recruitment of insurgents through drone attacks.
In this respect, a report of the New America Foundation revealed, “When the US drones attack Pakistan’s tribal areas, it is not just the 10, or 50 innocent civilians they kill, these killings provide reason to the youngsters for joining terrorist groups waging war against US and of course Pakistan…while killing 10 militants, the US has murdered more than 1400 Pakistanis, not involved in any terrorist activities. Could it not imply that it gave birth to another 1400 militants?”
America’s drone campaign could give a setback to the democratic system in Pakistan. Its another aim is to create a rift between Pakistan’s armed forces and the newly-elected government on one side and opposition parties including general masses on the other.
However, by setting aside the previous resolution of parliament, new rapprochement between Islamabad and Washington after the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan in wake of public protests—meeting of the Pak-US spymasters on August 4, last year and despite the opposition of civil and military leadership, without bothering for any internal backlash, President Obama seems determined to continue drone attacks on Pak tribal areas as part of his so-called counterinsurgency programme.
The New York Time on May 26, 2011, disclosed, “President Obama has become personally involved in the process” and “has normalised extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature, Obama is authorising murder on a weekly basis.”
Now, even by neglecting criticism at home and abroad that predator strikes are illegal, unethical and violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as well as the UN Charter, US warrior President Obama remains intransigent to continue his secret war through these drone attacks as part of US secret strategy against Pakistan.
So, it is the right hour that the entire leadership of Pakistan must stand united to get rid of drone attacks and settle the issue of war on terror as well.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations