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Afghan and Pak. Gov’t Lashes Out on Drones; Given Deadline to Stop Strikes
by Ezra Van Auken
In recent months, America’s drone campaign on a number of nation states has been put under the spotlight, and although the light isn’t necessarily bright, there’s more being acknowledged. After building calls by victims of the ongoing UAV strikes, international officials drawing somewhat of a line in the sand and newly released reports by the United Nations, pressure has mounted on US officials. Ben Emmerson, the special investigator to the UN, injected new life into the discussion two weeks ago after releasing his report.
The State Weekly reported, “Emmerson writes that there are a “number of legal questions” that haven’t been answered by the guilty states, or most importantly, Obama’s administration regarding drone strikes.” Following calls by Emmerson for transparency by the Obama administration and CIA, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned US officials for their drone campaign and questioned the legality taking place. Despite international officials rehashing the debate, the strikes have continued.
Targeting a Taliban chief in northern Pakistan, the US fired on and killed Hakimullah Mehsud this past Friday. Of course, Obama officials looking to work with Pakistan’s government and newly elected Nawaz Sharif aren’t going to receive much of a response, especially when drone strikes are constantly reoccurring. Mehsud wasn’t the only victim of the strike; at least 25 other individuals were killed. And according to the Pakistani government, Friday’s particular strike broke promises made by the US to halt strikes.
A halted drone campaign was allowing the Prime Minister Sharif to consult and maintain peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Mehsud’s death, one of the highest ranks in TTP, did nothing for Pakistan’s peace talks. The US State Department though, rolled their eyes to Pakistani government claims of peace talks, calling the discussions an “internal matter” and that their Friday strike hadn’t damaged anything. Ironically, the TTP has argued with Pakistani officials over US drone use, making this strike yet another dilemma.
Now, Taliban officials have switched the off button regarding peace talks with Pakistani’s government, citing the irresponsibility by American officials. Good news for Nawaz’s administration? Not one bit. The military has been told to be on high alert, fearing the Taliban will launch more attacks on the populated areas. Retaliating for what the US has done and what the Pakistani government allows to happen. Even Afghani President Hamid Karzai showed distaste for what the US has pushed onto Pakistan.
Karzai called the timing of an American drone strike “unsuitable”, only thoroughly hurting peace talks between Nawaz and the Taliban. Just as Nawaz has tried, “Karzai has been seeking to open peace talks with the Afghan Taliban to end 12 years of war,” although Taliban members hold that Karzai is nothing more than a pro-US installment. And while the US ignores the pleas by not only their friends but also foes, patience runs low, hurting US foreign policy entirely – undermining their own outcomes.
Looking to stir some action in Pakistan, anti-drone party Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) members are setting a deadline and if violated, the party is planning to block off NATO routes into Afghanistan. Set for November 20th, US officials have the ball in their court to stop drone strikes, and with heavy threat. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwah (KP) Province is a major supply route for NATO and Western forces into Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass to be exact.