I tried to convince my parents to allow me a 5-day visit to Pakistan, but in vain. The peace march to Waziristan is on and I so very badly want to participate and unite my voice with thousands of others who will be there to register their protest against the taking of innocent lives. My parents want me to focus on my studies instead. I am currently studying law in the UK.

My physical absence compels me to write this article, so that I could stand with my brethren in spirit.

My boss, for a brief few weeks, this summer - Mr Clive Stafford Smith, founder and Director of Reprieve - did something that our honourable leaders in Pakistan should have done a long time ago. While they continue to play their silly, selfish games with the apex court in Pakistan over the, by now, infamous letter to the Swiss courts, this champion of human rights wrote a letter to President Barack Obama to ensure there will be no drone attacks on Pakistani and foreign human rights activists when they enter Waziristan on October 7. What impressed me immensely was the following part of his letter: “I know that politicians find apologies to be uncommonly difficult, but we can do at least part of the job for you. I plan to say sorry to the innocent victims of drones in Waziristan – to Sadaullah, for example, the 15-year old student who lost both of his legs, one eye and most of his dreams when a Hellfire missile struck his home in September 2009. (That was one you authorised, Mr President!) It is only by apologising for our errors, by showing compassion to the innocent victims, and by seeking to learn from our mistakes that we will begin to repair the damage that we have done.”

We city dwellers are oblivious to what goes on in the tribal areas - to the sheer terror among lay people - as the predator drones crisscross the skies above. When houses are decimated and turn into tombs, when bodies are shredded to pieces. There have been instances when a drone attack took place causing injuries and death and when those whose lives were spared rushed to help the wounded, another attack took place, killing and maiming many more. The end result is that people are terrified to even offer help after such episodes.

We are fortunate that it is not happening in our midst and to our families - thank God for that - but are we okay with the fact that it happens to our countrymen, our brethren, almost every day? Sadly, it didn’t even occur to our independent media - in whose honour we sing paeans every day - to tally up the figures of the dead and wounded - not up till the time when Stanford and NY City Universities jointly researched the damage caused by drones and came out with a comprehensive study.

According to this report only 2 percent of the dead or wounded in these attacks are terrorists and the rest of the 98 percent are absolutely innocent. The irony of all ironies is that instead of using this valuable document to project Pakistan’s case before the world, some of our “intellectuals” are contesting the results.

Who are these people?

It is a matter of extreme shame that, once again, it is the people from the West who are raising their voices against this atrocity. Remember the ‘million man march’ in London against the war in Iraq, while the Muslim Ummah slept after taking some muscle relaxant? Well, it’s happening again!

Folks from the West are reaching out to establish the human bond with us. There are delegates reaching Pakistan to participate in the march. This is while some of our own people justify the attacks. ‘I ask the ghairatmand Pakistanis - why don’t you come out and speak against this criminal act?’ Where is the resolution passed by the supreme elected body of the land, wherein all of the 360 honourable democratically-elected leaders of Pakistan lodged a protest and asked the government to put a stop to this undeclared war? Was it just an eyewash - a puppet show being enacted - to assuage the grief on the street? Who remembers today the Waziristan Accord, the September Accord, the deal with Naik Mohammad so on and on and on? Who walked away from all these agreements made with the tribes? Why was Naik Mohammad killed when our sovereign nation had signed off on an accord? Why did the jawans in khaki suffer for the killing of 80 children in Damadola?

I salute the Chairman PTI for taking his honourable stand against this atrocity. I, sir, being the youth of Pakistan, stand with you! I may not physically be there with you during the forthcoming Peace March, but I wish you God speed and every success in this noble cause. I can see the cornered tigers rise again to provide succour to the hapless people being targeted without any fault of theirs. Youth of Pakistan is alive today and will frustrate any plans to run our country into ground, be they from our enemies within or without.

It is good to see you leading the youth from every city and in step with international delegations from across Europe and America towards the land where no one dare pick the human flesh or mop the blood off the floor or remove pieces of bones littering the landscape - where rescuers of drone victims themselves become drone victims, where a person is fearful of accompanying a funeral procession because his own funeral may take place the next day.

Our government has defaulted on this most basic of its duties - safeguarding the lives of its citizens - and we look towards the youth to lead the effort to put an end to this undeclared and illegal war.

    The writer is a freelance columnist.

    Email: knitknot786@yahoo.com