I just got done watching Christine Fair (@christinefair)’s argument on AJ Stream in favor of the drone strikes, while inviting well deserved flak for some of her comments. 

While both Christine and other invitees had a good talk on use of drones, their efficacy, arguments against their usage; there were really no arguments made to form a counter-narrative to the use of drones. Or that drones in effect are tools of war, aerial bombardment of any sort, in populated areas will result in civilian causalities. If you are serious about offering drone victims a respite, then you have to come up with an alternate narrative that actually deals with the situation on the ground.

The only alternate on offer was to conduct talks with the militants, like the ones being done in Afghanistan by the US. And the best part about this argument is that while making this point, there is not a single commentator, who would like to get into the details of these talks. The US pull-out plan includes maintaining spec-op troops in the country, with the CIA continuing to maintain its full strength presence (meaning more drones, and not less). Now, how can the same formula apply in Pakistan’s case? What are ‘our’ options on the table, when we suggest that the alternate to drones are talks with militants?

The only party in Pakistan which is currently offering a workable long-term alternative to that plan seems to be ANP, which wants to assimilate FATA into KPK. While there exist points both for and against the assimilation, as far as effective policing of FATA is concerned, this seems to be the only workable alternative. Otherwise, what you are left with, is an area which has little or no writ of the state and acts independent of the state’s policy.

Military strikes of any sort which result in civilian causalities deserve condemnation without question, there is no moral defense for it. At the same time, these military strikes and tools of war, will not cease to exist, only because we want them to, unless the reasons why they are being employed are dealt with. Isn’t this the time when opinion makers in Pakistan actually start coming up with workable alternatives to use of drones?






  • Shahid

    When you’re a hunky dory pacifist shouting rhetoric, there is no desire to propose alternatives. Artillery, aerial bombardment have far greater collateral and SpOps are any Op has immense operator loss. But hell no, just ‘talk’, ‘make the US leave first’, ‘their terrorism and ours’ etc etc. Firstly it’s impossible to convince a lot of the people riding on moral horses that there will be, come what may, a military aspect of the ‘solution’ to this mess. Only then can you discuss what military solution and technology to use.

    Point is for many it is primarily about who tbe operator of the drones is, not their use, effectiveness or results. Any ideas wrapped in anti-imperialist (and specifically) American rhetoric will remain counter effective in discussing use of drones.

  • Mzahidiftikhar

    Give people of FATA what they ask for: 1. Admit them as a province to the federation. 2. They do not want the court system that is prevalent in the rest of Pakistan, just like people of Swat. Allow them to setup their own courts the way they want.

    Given that they have recognition & resources to deal with militancy in their midst, we can then expect them to take care of themselves and support the federation in its objectives. The people of FATA is sick & tired of the situation themselves and they want to have the situation resolved as badly as the rest of us.

    Firepower has its use, but must never be the first choice.

    With NATO gone, CIA drones would be more-or-less orphans. We can take care of them by ourselves, provided we are not overly dependent upon US for financial aid.

  • Aisha Khan

    I think first of all as a nation we need to decide what we want and then resolve to walk on that path with determination. Right now there is not only rampant confusion but irreconcilably divergent views on policy based on narrow vested interests that will not allow any solution to the myriad problems we face. We are on a self destruct mode. The drones are only a minor issue. We need to sit down and take a good look at ourselves, our past, our present, our actions today and decide if we want to stay the course or change direction. Once we make an informed choice all the doubts will vanish.