More than 400 US drone attacks carried out in Pakistan’s troubled areas along the Afghan border since 2004 have killed between 2 500 and 3 600 people, including 176 children, according to the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
These controversial attacks – shrouded in secrecy – continue to generate heated debate, dismay and anger in political, legal and military circles across the globe, with analysts and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International saying they are illegal under international law, and constitute crimes against humanity and they should stop.
But the US government said the drone attacks are an effective way of combating terrorism in the area, arguing that they have dealt a major blow to terrorist groups by killing most of their top people and masterminds, and uprooting many of their operations.
In addition to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, the US has also opened another drone front in Somalia, and has reportedly deployed drones called ‘Predators’ in the Sahel (Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso) to watch terrorists with an eagle’s eye, and possibly kill them.
But not everyone killed by these drones in Pakistan or elsewhere is a terrorist or an Islamist radical.
Children, senior citizens and other innocent villagers continue to pay a heavy price of an operation branded by some observers as ‘immoral’, ‘unfair’ and ‘evil’.
There was huge outrage last year one drone attack killed a 68-year-old grandmother in North-West Pakistan as she picked vegetables, media reports said. More than 3000 kilos of bombs coming from these blind drones have also been dropped on entire families that were celebrating a wedding.
Some have called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to intervene by sending teams in these areas to collect ‘hard evidence’ that could see some of the US top military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) figures stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But the US, which allegedly manipulates the ICC to target African political leaders and warlords, does not recognise the Netherlands-based tribunal nor did it ratify the Rome Statutes that paved the way for the creation of the ICC,
This brings the equation to square one and makes peaceful communities wonder how to force the world’s top cop (US) to stop its brutal ‘evil’ operations.
The Pakistani government has repeatedly said that it never made an arrangement with the US to launch drones attacks in these areas. But sources close to the Pakistani Army said the deal was struck ‘secretly’ long ago with former Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf.
The deal reportedly has some sensitive clauses, some of which which prohibit any future government that comes after Musharraf to annul it.
Many observers doubt that Pakistanin PM Nawaz Sharif’s US visit could bring something positive about the drone attacks.
Alea acta est!