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The Drone Wars

Drone warfare is a growing trend in Pakistan

The Drone Wars

There have been at least 20 US drone missile attacks in Pakistan this month alone, targeting supposed militants in the tribal provinces bordering Afghanistan.  This is more than twice the number of drone missile strikes in an average month. Neither the US military nor the CIA confirms their use of offensive drone operations, but analysts say it is the only force capable of deploying such aircraft in the region.  This is quite a peek in numbers, considering these are attacks outside of a declared war zone, and climbing from 35 such attacks in 2008, to 53 in 2009 and 75 already in 2010.  Does the average US citizen realize their government is and has been at war within Pakistan since 2004?

The laser-guided Hellfire missiles of the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UVA) and its aptly named cousin the Reaper have killed more than 500 people in Pakistan this year, and with little accountability or positive identification of the victims by either local or US authorities.  It’s hard to believe that when a village is bombarded by explosives unprovoked and unexpectedly, all those murdered are to be considered enemy combatants and there is seldom a reliable count. The Pakistani military has closed off media access to the southwest as their own ongoing offensive has claimed more than 3000 lives. The federally administered tribal areas of North and South Waziristan have seen the most state violence as the mountainous region is purportedly hiding al-Queada operatives and Pakistani Taliban, an excuse that has been cited since 2004. The Pakistani Government officially objects to the US bombings yet still maintains a cooperative relationship.  Certainly, American forces have held bases throughout Pakistan as early as 2004.  The Shamsi airfield is known to be 200 miles southwest of Quetta, near the Afghan border, and continues to be a launch pad for indiscriminate remote-controlled violence.

A more secret US base on the western bank of the Indus river has recently raised controversy as the opposite bank of the river was let out to save the airstrip from flooding while endangering millions on the plains of Sindh province. For given reasons of security and sensitive technology information this dry land has been exempt from being used to stage any relief efforts at a time when the country is reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history. It seems while little is available for humanitarian aid and flood relief, on the other side of the country there is sufficient funding to maintain a steady campaign of stealth remote bombings.

The danger of this type of warfare is quite apparent.  Globally more than 40 countries either possess UAVs or the technology to manufacture unmanned aircraft.  These include Israel, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Iran, Britain and France.  Extracting the soldier from the battlefield and the pilot from the cockpit leaves the enemy as only an abstract shape on a screen who cannot identify themselves never mind return fire.  The actions of the US and its allies such as Israel are setting a precedent for what are acceptable tactics in lawless disputed zones. The UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, has criticized the use of remote-controlled drones as posing a growing challenge to international law, while also questioning the number of civilian casualties in such strikes.

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Topics: Peace/War
533 words

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