In the backdrop of Nato air strikes on the Salala checkpost on Nov 26, 2011, that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, our legislators as usual missed out on something. Even though the US is willing to address Pakistan’s concerns on certain issues, it is highly unlikely that the Obama administration will revisit its CIA-operated drone campaign in the tribal regions. The fact is that the US can accommodate Pakistan’s concerns by reviewing the mechanism under which drones operate but it is not possible at this stage that the entire campaign would be brought to a halt.

I am not trying to prove that the US is always right in every case. But the drone controversy is also more enigmatic than any other issue when we talk about US-Pakistan relations or so-called reengagement of ties on new terms and conditions. No one can deny that drones have become more crucial than ever in fighting wars and terrorism. The CIA spied on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan by video transmitted from a drone. According to a report released by an independent London-based group of investigative journalists in October 2011, at least between 2,318 and 2,912 people, the majority of them alleged militants, have been killed in these attacks.

Between 386 and 775 civilians, including 173 children, were killed in the 300 drone attacks since June 17, 2004. The report says between 1,141 and 1,225 people were injured. The data shows that only 15 percent of civilians were killed in drone attacks and they happened to be supporters of terrorists whom they had given shelter. The US should equip Pakistan’s armed forces with the sophisticated technology of drones. Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) recommendations should have been drafted on these lines, but it is unfortunate that legislators had a non-serious attitude.


Islamabad, May 4.