Opponents of drone attacks on foreign lands kicked off a month-long campaign aimed at putting a stop to them when a fairly large number of old women gathered at New York on Thursday to protest, carrying placards that read: “Drones fly, children die”. The organisers intend staging similar demonstrations to be participated by grandmothers across the US, in particular in front of the offices of manufacturers and suppliers of drones, and other major cities to drive their message home. A New York-based group ‘Know Drones’ has set off the drive called, “April Days of Action”.

As the Obama administration sharply increased the use of this unmanned aircraft in targeting terrorist suspects and the death toll also of common citizens, including women and children and the elderly, climbed up as a consequence, the feeling that they violated human rights took hold of the politically conscious sections of the global community. And not only are those who are the direct sufferers of these strikes taking to the streets to voice their anger and resentment, but also the Americans and some other nations have begun agitating against their use. Lately, the UN has expressed its concern over the drones’ so-called collateral damage and raised questions about its legitimacy in the eyes of international law. The Human Rights Watch and other rights organisation have already been pointing to these excesses. While the Stanford think-tank painted an alarming picture of death and destruction and the psychological impact of these strikes, another investigative agency based in London has estimated that as many as 3,581, including 884 civilians, have died since the Bush administration launched the drone in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2004. Leaving aside the differing figures of the killed, it is clear that the drones are ruining the lives of survivors by creating psychological problems for them, which is no less a human rights abuse than the fatality itself.

Meanwhile, another report carries the views on the US drone policy of several officials and analysts, prominent among them being Karl Inderfurth, a former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, and Ryan Crocker who has served both in Pakistan and Afghanistan as Ambassador. Inderfurth warns that any of Pakistan’s Chief Executive emerging out of the general elections would seek an end to drone attacks and opines that the US would have to hold a series of negotiations with him to “seek some kind of accommodation” with drones as well as to show greater respect to Pakistan’s sovereignty. Crocker talks of more or less the same approach.

However, with the electorate’s unanimous verdict against drones, it would be hard for any leader who comes into power to go against it. If the US really wishes to reduce the stock of anti-American sentiments prevailing in the country, it would have to seriously reflect on their causes and its drone policy, undoubtedly, is no small contributor to these feelings. The programme has to be wound up to overcome that hurdle.