“All it does is it turns more people against the US”
July 23, 2012
Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) has slammed the US policy of targeting militants in Pakistan and elsewhere with unmanned drone strikes, declaring that terrorists only benefit from such actions.
In an interview with the Pakistan Daily Times, Khan, a former high profile cricket champion, said that drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and any other part of the world are insane, immoral, illegal and counterproductive.
“Of drones I think two words” Khan said. “It’s immoral and it’s insane. Immoral because you cannot justify eliminating suspects and insane because it’s counterproductive. All it does is it turns more people against the US, hatred grows and the beneficiaries of this insanity are the militants.”
“It is too criminal to justify these acts, which are a violation of all humanitarian laws.” Khan added. “You can’t eliminate suspects, their families, their children and anyone else who is killed and pass it off as collateral damage. All it does is aid the militancy,” he added.
Khan noted that there was absolutely no evidence to show that drone strikes are effectively breaking up militant networks, and that US authorities never provide the names of the people killed in such strikes because to do so would highlight its engagement in war crimes.
“I don’t know how anyone presses buttons and eliminates human beings on information that might or might not be correct. How can this be civilised?” he said.
“Einstein defined madness as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Eight years we’ve been bombing them and what are the results? This is not the way. The way to do it is to win the people to your side,” Khan added.
Khan has vowed to take a convoy of journalists to Waziristan on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border in September, along with thousands of his supporters.
“Things have gone from bad to worse. The only way to resolve the problem is to withdraw the drones, pull the Pakistani Army out of the Tribal Areas and let the people who live there weed out the alQaeda extremists and other foreign militants,” he added.
The PTI or “movement for Justice” leader hopes to shed more light on the issue by introducing the world’s media to some of the families of those who have been killed by drones over the past eight years.
Khan’s party has exploded in popularity over the past year and is expected to make significant gains in national elections against the two mainstream political parties in Pakistan later this year or early in 2013.
The Obama administration has been heavily criticized for moving to block the release of information relating to its overseas drone assassination programme, and will not even acknowledge that it exists, despite countless public references to the programme and the proven existence of an official “kill list”.
It is common knowledge that the Obama administration has exponentially increased the use of drone missile attacks in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The president has referred to the programme several times in public, as have officials such as counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.
Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a major piece on the programme, revealing that the White House has asserted the right to carry out state-sponsored assassination anywhere in the world without having to provide any evidence or go through any legal process.
Furthermore, the Times revealed that Obama adopted a policy that “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”
The administration merely has to state that the target is a terrorist and it doesn’t matter whether they are an American citizen or not, as we saw in the case of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, who were both killed last year.
In December of last year, Obama administration lawyers reaffirmed their backing for state sponsored assassination, claiming that “U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets” and do not have the right to any legal protection against being marked for summary execution.
During a CBS 60 Minutes interview in January, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta revealed that Obama himself personally approves the policy to kill American citizens suspected of terrorism without trial on a case by case basis.
Perhaps the real reason that the administration wants the details of the programme kept under wraps is that, as reported by Propublica recently, the programme is potentially much bigger in scope than anyone had previously thought.
The administration’s figures do not add up, they are chock full of contradictions and discrepancies, and there can be little doubt that there have been many many more civilian deaths as a result of drone attacks than have been publicly acknowledged.
Experts, including UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns, as well as Pakistan’s UN ambassador in Geneva, Zamir Akram, have described the drone assassination programme as a violation of the international legal system, saying that some attacks may constitute war crimes.
Akram, who noted that US drone strikes had killed more than 1,000 civilians in Pakistan, also said “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the ‘war against terror’. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.
Many also contend that the attacks infringe the national sovereignty of Pakistan and constitute an act of war.
In 2010, a report by Washington think tank The New America Foundation found that 32% of the more than 1,200 people killed since 2004 in Pakistan, or around 1 in 3, were innocent bystanders rather than dangerous terrorists.
While the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has stated that the Pakistani government is actively facilitating the attacks by providing bases from which to launch the drones, Pakistani authorities have consistently voiced opposition to cross border missile strikes, which have been ongoing for years, but have accelerated since day one of Obama’s presidency. During Obama’s first year in office, there were 53 reported drone missile attacks; more than were carried out during the entirety of George W. Bush’s two four year terms in office.
Reports from 2009, drawn up by Pakistani authorities, indicated that close to 700 civilians had already perished, with just 14 wanted Al Qaeda leaders killed in the attacks.
The ACLU estimates that US drone strikes have killed as many as 4,000 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2002. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians.
Last week it was revealed that the families of three US citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year – including al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaqi – have filed a civil lawsuit against top US officials.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.