US Drone Warfare is Counterproductive
By Sajjad Shaukat
At this critical hour, when joint session of the Pakistani Parliament is debating over the 40 recommendations, made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) to review country’s foreign policy in general and the new relationship with the United States in particular in the backdrop of deliberate attacks on Salala outposts which killed 24 Pakistani troops on November 26 last year, and in light of the parliamentary overview, PCNS has agreed to link the NATO supply resumption to immediate cessation to the drone attacks, while US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John visited Islamabad to repair the damaged ties between both the countries, after the positive meeting of President Barrack Obama and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in Seoul, CIA-operated drone strike killed a number of people in North Waziristan on March 30 as part of a new phase of air attacks on country’s tribal areas.
Notably, without bothering for the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, US President Obama has recently defended these strikes by pilotless aircraft as part of American counter-insurgency programme. Although Washington has re-started these strikes as part of US covert war against Pakistan in wake of subversive acts, arranged by American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad in order to destabilise our country for their collective strategic designs, yet these drone attacks are counterproductive not only for Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also for the US itself with far reaching implications.
These strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on FATA which have continued intermittently on Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified under the Obama era, killing more innocent people than a few Al Qaeda commanders. In fact, in the last three years, more than 700 innocent civilians and only 14 Al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by the US unmanned air vehicles.
Regarding drone attacks and casualties, New America Foundation pointed out in a recent report, “when the US drones attack Pakistan’s tribal areas, it is not just the 10 or 50 innocent civilians they kill, but it creates the anti-US sentiments among masses…the civilian killings provide reason to the youngsters for joining terrorist groups waging war against US and of course Pakistan…while killing 10 militants through spy planes, the US has murdered more than 1400 Pakistanis not involved in any terrorist activities. Could it not imply that it killed 10 militants and gave birth to another 1400?”
Missiles attacks by these spy planes will cause drastic impact on the US war on terror, not only in Pakistan, but also in Afghanistan where US-led NATO forces are facing defeatism. This action is likely to undermine international efforts of stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, damaging American interests in the region, which are part of its global strategy, while the US-led NATO forces are going to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014. In this context, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and some US top officials have repeatedly realised that America needs Pakistan’s help for implementation of exit strategy, stability in Afghanistan and even for the success of peace process with the Afghan Taliban, which the US has already started in QATAR. But these efforts will badly fail, if US predators’ attacks continued.
In fact, the US is playing a double game with Pakistan. In these terms, on the one hand, it seeks stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while on the other; it wants to continue the drone strikes to thwart the recent offer of militants and that Pakistan government for peace talks and to provocate the tribal people, causing more recruitment, resulting into more suicide attacks inside the country. Major aim behind drone attacks is to alienate the locals, and incite the insurgents of FATA against the security forces of Pakistan.
But, a perennial wave of missile strikes will certainly result in more unity among the elected government, security forces and the general masses, consequently massive hostility towards Washington. In that scenario, American policy of liberalism led by moderate and democratic forces in Pakistan could badly fail, giving a greater incentive to the fundamentalist and extremist elements in the country.
In this backdrop, while, strained relations exist between the US and Pakistan, if pilotless aircraft keeps on going, targeting FATA, even the government will be compelled to stop military operations as in the recent past, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar indicated. However, in that situation, the democratic regime will be forced to leave the US war against terrorism.
It is mentionable that Russia, on January 18, 2012 rejected the tough Western strategy of sanctions over Iran and Syria. In this context, on February 4 this year, Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council, calling the Syrian president to step down. Both China and Russia seeks multinational system in the world instead of unilateral one led by the sole superpower. Moscow and Beijing which have so far asked the US-led EU to peacefully resolve the question of Iranian nuclear programme, will further strengthen their relationship, and a new cold war could be started between the US on the one side and the Russia and China on the other.
After observing the emerging geo-political realties, and sinister designs of the US, a shift has already occurred in the foreign policy of Pakistan. In this context, Islamabad which had strengthened relationship with China, has cultivated its relationship with the Russian Federation. In 2010, the then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Putin also remarked that Pakistan was very important partner in South Asia and the Muslim world for Russia.
During the trip of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Russia, on February 9 this year, she stated that SCO was an exceptionally important forum within the region to counter regional challenges. Moscow and Russia also agreed to enhance the bilateral ties in various fields. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan on May, 2011, he discussed with Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—the possibility of expanding defence ties. On November 28, 2011, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, while commenting on the NATO cross-border air attack in Pakistan emphasised that a nation’s sovereignty should always be upheld.
Nonetheless, US drone warfare against Pakistan will be counterproductive bringing about other dire consequences for United States itself. In this respect, both Iran and Pakistan might stand together to frustrate the US strategic designs. Moreover, an alliance of both the countries with Syria would make the matter worse for Washington. In that worse scenario, a vast region from Pakistan to Somalia and Nigeria to Iraq will further be radicalised, resulting in more terrorism, directed against the Americans. In such adverse circumstances, American worldwide interests are likely to be jeopardised in these countries including the whole Middle East where the US has already failed in coping with the Islamic militants directly or indirectly, and where in some Arab countries, anti-American resentment is already running high in wake of the violent protests against the pro-American rulers. These negative developments will further reduce the US bargaining leverage on rival small countries such as Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela etc.
It is noteworthy that after fighting a different war for ten years, American cost of war which has reached approximately 7 trillion dollars will further increase in wake of debt crisis, decline of dollar and acute recession including other-related financial problems inside the country. These will give a greater setback to the US economy as compared other developed countries, while European and other western countries held the United States responsible for the global financial crisis. In the recent past, anti-capitalism which initially started in America, enveloped other European countries. In this respect, a greater rift will be created between the US and other western countries.
We can conclude that US drone warfare against Pakistan as part of American covert war will prove counterproductive due to its dire implications, and the US is likely to face the fate of the former Soviet Union in its worst form.
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