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‘The battle within’

March 10, 2013

THIS is apropos the article ‘The battle within’ (Feb 21) by Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson (Feb 21) and the reports ‘CIA runs secret force in tribal areas’ (Feb 22), as also the front-page report ‘India finances trouble in Pakistan: Hagel’ (Feb 27).

In their article, Mr Krepon and Ms Thompson have cited various statistics about the number of fatalities in Pakistan in the last couple of years and argued that in 2012 the figure was 3,007, while those killed by drone attacks, mainly terrorists, was 344.

Hence, they have tried to make the case that the drone attacks are insignificant whereas it is internal violence that is killing Pakistan from within.

The issue should have been seen against the fuller perspective. The report on the CIA by the prestigious American think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations, shows, among other things, that the ‘drone strikes are widely opposed by citizens of important allies, emerging powers and local populations in states where strikes occur.’

It quotes some figures for the opposition. Greece (90 per cent), Egypt (89), Turkey (81), Spain (76), Brazil (76), Japan (75) and Pakistan (83). It also quotes a former senior US military official: “Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America.”

Meanwhile, the former US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, is also cited: “The problem is the political fallout … do you want to win a few battles and lose the war?” Thus the writers of the article have missed the whole point of why drone strikes are undesirable.

The last report quotes a speech made by the new US Secretary of Defence in 2011 as a senator, in which he had said that India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan from areas across the border in Afghanistan, ‘and you can carry that into many dimensions. ’

The story also notes the academic C. Christine Fair, too, had made a similar suggestion during a congressional hearing in 2011.

The Pakistan situation must be seen in the context of the occupation of Afghanistan by the USSR in 1979, before which most Pakistanis hadn’t even heard the name of heroin or Kalashnikov, and the ensuring jihad promoted by the West by recruiting jihadis from across the Islamic world.

There also were proxy wars fermented by some Arab countries against Iran to gain influence in Pakistan.

Besides these, there has been the longstanding meddling by India that began soon after 1947 when the Pakhtunistan issue was created in league with Afghanistan. It still continues, as proved by the above-mentioned report.

Last came the American war on terror that led to severe violence here, since the jihadis turned against Pakistani state seen as siding with the US. Before that there used to be no suicide bombings or bomb blasts.