Covert Aims behind Illegal Drone Attacks
Under the pretext of American so-called counterinsurgency programme, and by implementing the anti-Muslim policy of his predecessor, the US President Barack Obama has broken all the record of human rights by extrajudicial killings of the innocent people through CIA-operated drone attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen etc. in general and Pakistan in particular, while, the United States claims to be protector of human rights not only inside the country, but also all over the world.
On March 11, 2014, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, who conducted an investigation into targeted killings, and examined legality of drone strikes, presented his report on drone strikes to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). His report examined 37 drone strikes as sample—the US, UK and Israel have launched in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza, which resulted into civilian casualties. Emmerson told the HRC, “These strikes require a legal duty on the relevant states to provide…a justification for the use of deadly force…to disclose the results of their own fact finding inquiries,why no such inquiries have taken place.”
Emmerson also referred to an interactive website, produced by Forensic Architecture team which marked the location of 30 drone strikes which helped in his final report.
In this context, Professor Eyal Weizman, the Principal Investigator of the Forensic Architecture project said, “Studying buildings hit by drones reveal much of consequences of a strike. The work we do is essential because states undertaking drone strikes, such as the US and Israel, attempt to hide actions and even deny them outright.”
However, CIA-operated illegal drone attacks in Pakistan cannot be seen in isolation, as these strikes are part of the US-led covert aims against this only nuclear country in the Islamic World.
May 21, 2016, the CIA-operated drone strike killed the Chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Nushki, Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. Notably, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan. For the purpose, a number of the meetings were also held among Pakistan, America, China and Afghanistan. This latest strike by the US predator in Balochistan province gave a greater setback to peace process for Afghanistan under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework, which started in Murree with strenuous efforts of Islamabad.
On June 10, this year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Adviser separately.
During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone attack in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Gen. Raheel Sharif by elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges…inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of over three million refugees…blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate…target TTP [Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan] and its chief Mullah Fazlullah in their bases in Afghanistan—Indian RAW and NDS [Afghan National Directorate of Security] are fomenting terrorism in Pakistan which is committed to work for a long term peace process for Afghanistan under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework.”
On the one hand, Washington has demanded Pakistan’s support for dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, while targeted Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour with drone, putting Islamabad in to a difficult position. In fact, these are part of American double game to destabilize Pakistan in order to obtain the secret goals of America, India and Israel.
The US has always preferred New Delhi over Islamabad. In this regard, during the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America, addressing the media jointly, Prime Minister Modi said “I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Barack Obama has extended with regard to India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”
America has been backing Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance China. During President Obama’s second visit to India, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. This duplicity has initiated a dangerous arms race between Pakistan and India, and between China and India.
Setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of non-proliferation, and safety of nuclear arms, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale.
Undoubtedly, unlike India, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in safe hands—well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, having the best command and control system. However, taking cognizance of the US double standard, China and some responsible countries have decided to oppose in the meeting of the NSG to grant a waiver to India in this regard.
Indian desperation in Afghanistan is increasing in the backdrop of growing engagements of Islamabad, Kabul, Beijing and Washington. Therefore, by arranging terror-assaults in Pakistan and Afghanistan, New Delhi is also sabotaging the peace process between the Afghan officials and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan.
Based in Afghanistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which are well-penetrated in the ISIS and the TTP are using the militants of these terrorist outfits to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s province of Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this connection, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. Collectively or individually, these intelligence agencies are also assisting Jundullah (God’s soldiers)—the Sunni militant group which is active in Balochistan against Shias.
Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, Mullah Fazlullah, chief of the TTP is running a parallel government in Afghanistan. The militants of this group have their own legal system and own authority, exercising strict control.
It is notable that Pakistan’s Armed Forces broke the backbone of the militants through military operation Zarb-i-Azb—killing thousands of insurgents including foreign terrorists, while, primary intelligence agency ISI and other law-enforcing agencies captured several terrorists in various regions of Pakistan. Therefore, the aim of the drone strike is to thwart, the success of Pakistan, achieved against terrorists.
These strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which started on Pakistan’s tribal areas during the Bush era in 2004, intensified under the Obama Administration.
It is mentionable that in 2013, first time, a US Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the predator attacks, openly admitted that 4,700 people have been killed by the raids of America’s secretive drone war. The number exceeds some independent estimates of the death toll.
According to the research of London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “Between June 2004 and September 2012, these unmanned aerial vehicles killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians including 176 children.” In this respect, in a report, The Guardian disclosed on August 11, 2011, “The CIA claims that there has been not one non-combatant killed in the past year…it is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”
But, details collected by the Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties through unmanned aircraft are higher as indicated by the US officials—more than 5000 innocent civilians and only 22 Al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these aerial attacks.
In fact, American such a duplicity contains many other covert designs. America wants to provoke the tribal people against Pakistan’s security forces. The US 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 elected government on one side and opposition parties including general masses on the other.
And the US seeks to incite the tribal people to join the militant outfits and to conduct terror attacks inside Pakistan. 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?”
Based on research, a report, “Living Under Drones,” prepared by experts from Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law had revealed that the US campaign of drone “strikes in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt is terrorizing civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentiment…have killed thousands of people…even stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted.” The report urged Washington to rethink its drone strategy, arguing it was counterproductive and undermined international law.
The New York Time on May 26, 2011, disclosed, “President Obama has become personally involved in the process” and “has normalized extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature, Obama is authorizing murder on a weekly basis.”
While justifying these air strikes by the spy planes, counterterrorism advisor to Obama, John Brennan who had faced a Senate confirmation hearing for his nominee as CIA director is the main player, advising Obama on which strike, he should approve. Although he has 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.
Nevertheless, setting aside the parliament resolution, rallies and processions of Pakistan’s political and religious parties, while ignoring the Pak-US rapprochement, and without bothering for any internal backlash, these aerial attacks have kept on going on the tribal regions.
Now, trust deficit has deepened between Pakistan and the US since May 21, 2016, when the CIA-operated drone strike killed the Chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Balochistan.
US ex-presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have opposed Obama’s faulty drone strategy. Even, Secretary of State John Kerry has also criticized unabated use of unilateral drones in Pakistan, saying, “US engagement with the world is not just about drones.”
Apart from widespread criticism from some US allies and human rights groups which have remarked that these aerial attacks are illegal and unethical, and violation of the targeted countries’ sovereignty, the United Nations Charter, universal declaration of human rights and international law, the US warrior President Obama remains obstinate to continue extrajudicial killings through CIA-operated drones so as to fulfil the covert aims of the US-led countries.
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