The US drone campaign in Pakistan is one of the issues which has engulfed the public as well as the leaders for quite some time now, but due to the secrecy of the program and severely restricted access to concerned areas, no one really knows much about it. The conclusions that most arrive on are not based on facts, but poor or absolutely no information, propaganda by those who have aggressively campaigned to politicize the subject, using political and religious ideology among other factors. Resultantly, the society is divided into two opposing segments, both insisting on sticking to their extreme positions. On one hand, there are those who are blinded by their detestation of terrorists and completely ignore the issue of legality and sovereignty. They pay no heed to the killing of innocent locals, or to use a more digestible euphuism: collateral damage. On the other hand, there are people who can’t see beyond their hate for the US. They often blur the line between opposing drone attacks and supporting militants. Neither of the sides is helping anyone, certainly not the victims, and the futile debate continues.
Amnesty International has attempted to approach the topic from a human rights perspective in a report titled “Will I be next? US drone program in Pakistan”. Its findings paint a grim picture of the situation of the civilians living in North Waziristan. On land, they find themselves often caught in the crossfire between the militants and the Pakistan Army, while remote-controlled drones unleash carnage upon them from the sky above. It calls on the international community to withdraw its support from the drone program, and urges the US to ensure transparency and accountability of those responsible for the unlawful killings of citizens. Although, the report concedes that terrorists are indeed targeted in the strikes, but it also quotes instances where locals, who have no direct links with extremists, are targeted and their rescuers meet the same fate in a follow-on attack. This exercise of arbitrary justice is completely at odds with international law standards and may amount to war crimes if investigated independently.
The primary focus must finally shift to the affected residents of the troubled areas. If the idea is to bring an end to their miseries, it is imperative to understand certain things. Sovereignty was first violated when the state allowed its territory to become a safe haven for intruding militants. The drones followed them. The only available solution to get us out of this colossal mess is to establish the writ of the government because it is only then that it can see the international community eye to eye, its people can be protected and their lost voice can be heard. In order to achieve that, firm action cannot be avoided as kind words alone are bound to fail. The government is urged to step up and take back control of its territories -- not just from drones, but also from those militants who have terrorised the residents and laid waste to a peaceful way of life.