Drones, NATO and Pakistan

English Translation: I was made an orphan thanks to the drones

Approximately, 3,000 Pakistanis have been killed in drone attacks, of which only 170 have been identified as known “militants”.

Drone victims are not just statistics on a piece of paper, they are real people. President Obama argues that drone strikes are focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists and have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. Irrespective of all the arguments for and against the Drones, no one has raised this question that whether this will continue till eternity?

Infuriated by a NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Salala on Nov. 26, Islamabad has blocked Western convoys from travelling on its supply routes into Afghanistan. Pakistan is demanding an apology over the incident and also wants the Americans to stop drone strikes in FATA. The Americans say they are unable to meet the demands but urge Pakistan to reopen the supply route while the two sides negotiate a new arrangement for a future relationship.

To add to this, Pakistan has been denied access to the NATO summit to be held next week in Chicago which will determine the final strategy of NATO to operate in Pak-Afghan region. If we fail to attend that summit, then Pakistan will be out of whatever decisions they make in Chicago on the future NATO strategy for the Pak-Afghan region. Oh, what a dilemma!

A few questions arise here:
Will Pakistan compromise on the “No drone attack” demand to make sure that they attend the summit?
Will the US of A really stop the drone attacks even after pledging to stop?
Will Pakistan re-gain its lost National Integrity anytime soon?
Will we ever be a free state (in its true essence)?

Starting with the first two questions; even after all those acts passed by the parliaments and the provincial and national assembly’s against the drone attacks, I don’t think that we’ll be able to say bye-bye to Drones anytime soon. It has often been said that ‘Pakistan is not the problem but a solution to the problem’. Sadly, this aspect has never been assessed by our leadership. What they have been doing all along is to negotiate superficial, personal oriented deals with their counterparts in Washington and it’s no surprise that these deals never did help the common masses. Starting from General Ayub Khan upto Pervez Musharraf we see an array of generals dramatizing coup d’états and then turning from salaried individuals into industrial tycoons or estate billionaires in Pakistan and/or abroad; which is why during such times that Pakistan’s in most be apt position to conclude highly beneficial deals, our leaders just capitulate to a secure petty (apparently) for the nation but including hefty gains for their own personal and family gains. I hope that this doesn’t happen again but unfortunately, our history is filled with such hypocrites who put their own interests first rather than of the nation as a whole!

As for the last two questions, I am fairly positive that if we, as individuals, take some steps we can be free. Our leaders, no matter which party they belong to, might not be able to implement any strong rules unless we are ready to follow them. Some of the leaders might want to help us in this scenario while the rest look for their personal interests. A former senior U.S. official, known to have inside information about counter-terrorism operations, told the Guardian newspaper that ‘there was an agreement’ between former U.S. President George Bush and Pakistan’s, then leader, General Pervez Musharraf. ‘If we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him,’ the anonymous official said. ‘The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn’t stop us.’ So God knows how many more secret deals were made by the ex dictator to the detriment of country’s national interests!

The OBL raid last year proved to be a serious blow to Pakistan’s international image and to the country’s national integrity. While the US of A remains the biggest aid supplier to Pakistan, we need to gradually stop being dependent on US of A for it.

So what could be done to minimise the Drone attacks and to be a free state again?

I believe that in order to reduce the drone attacks, a jointly agreed framework between the Pakistan Army and the US of A may ensure fewer strikes. Concentrating their efforts together will help achieve the plan of uprooting Al-Qaeda in a limited or a defined time table. Since Obama announced in his speech on 2nd May 2012, that his final goal is to end Al-Qaeda, so if we have a directed approach toward this matter we surely will put an end to the misery of the natives of FATA much sooner.

The Economic Survey Of Pakistan 2010-11 revealed that The government has given Rs166.8 billion tax exemptions to the influential class of society in the current fiscal year, an amount which is Rs37 billion more than what the United States promised to give under the Kerry-Lugar aid package in a year. Pakistan does not have laws to cover income earned abroad; hence most of the elite class claim to earn most of their income from sources outside Pakistan. In order to overcome this, strict rules should be made in order to make sure that all social classes pay their taxes justly. Keeping in mind that most of the politicians become business tycoons after coming in power, a law should be made which should prevent business expanding when in power. This would lead to an increase in the national funds and would help us to be more independent on ourselves, as a nation. Establishing taxation rules about income generated abroad will also help in overcoming this economic dependence on US of A.

And most importantly, we need to understand that the future of Pakistan does not lie in the hands of a political leader or a party. None of the parties or the leaders has the capability of changing the fate of our country overnight unless we all, united as one, decide to do something about it. For more than a decade, Pakistan has been labelled as a terrorist state. This had a huge impact on the people of Pakistan who are themselves victims of terrorism. We can put an end to it but all we need is an initiative and a leader coupled with determination.

These steps might be hard to initiate but I believe that they need to be implemented in order to be free from the increasingly entangling shackles of melancholy and dependence on US of A.

This post was first published at the Qalam blog at StepUpPakistan, an initiative of Ali Moeen Nawazish.


One response to “Drones, NATO and Pakistan

  1. I don’t think the solution will be that easy or straightforward, because there is a lot of corruption and everyone has their own motives. If America’s aim would ACTUALLY have been to completely eradicate the terrorist groups, they could easily have done so. There are much greater motives behind all their actions and so it won’t be easy ‘negotiating’ to solve the problem. Just my opinion.

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