As reported in The Nation on May 1, President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor John Brenan said that the (drone) strikes were legal, ethical and proportional. However, American Civil Liberties Union does not think so and its Director National Security Project Hina Shamsi stated that the organisation continued to believe that the programme itself is not just unlawful but dangerous. As for Brennan's assertion that drone strikes are legal and ethical, a country which is run like a Mafia and attacks other countries on false charges, knowing these to be false, causes death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including nearly five thousand of its own (Iraq), and does not feel any need for subjecting the culprits even to a minor inquiry, much less an actual prosecution, what would it know of legality and ethics?

Drone strikes, apart from the humiliation they inflict on our state apparatus and the parliament, cause rising militancy within Pakistan. However to every-one's surprise, partial and indirect justification for the drone attacks came this time from none other than our beleaguered Prime Minister who said "Parliamentary resolution also stipulated that foreign fighters must be expelled from the country and Pakistani soil should not be used to attack other countries," adding "so, when we plan a strategy (with the US) , all these aspects would be discussed." It might be pertinent to mention here that Pervez Musharraf suggested many times to have the border fenced and/or mined, with suitable cross-over points, to prevent infiltration from either side but the Americans never accepted this sensible and practical proposal. Also, when Pakistan insists on repatriating millions of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, the Americans, Afghans as well as the United Nations oppose the move claiming that present-day Afghanistan is in no position to absorb them, and at the same time Americans and Afghans accuse Pakistan of providing safe havens to their enemies.

With Osama gone, and Al-Qaeda in shambles as claimed by the Americans, and Taliban having learnt their lesson, there is no likelihood of any attack on mainland America emanating from Afghanistan so the Americans should pack up and leave but instead they have negotiated an agreement with Afghan government to stay there well beyond 2014. So, if they choose to keep occupying Afghanistan, raising an army consisting of minority northern-alliance people in a Pashtun-majority country, kill Afghans for sport and keep their body parts as souvenir, urinate on and proudly pose for photographs with corpses of Afghans, burn copies of Holy Quran, kill innocent Afghans including women and children and instead of allowing the killer to be tried in Afghanistan, whisk him to the safety of mainland American where they will give him a long sentence but release him on parole after perhaps a couple of years, what do they expect Afghans to do - offer them bouquets?

Americans can avoid casualties by simply packing up and going home, in the sure knowledge that Afghans won't follow them there. However, if they choose to stay in Afghanistan, messing things up for Afghans and Pakistanis, they can't help getting bruised in the process for which the sole responsibility will rest on their shoulders.

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, May 1.