Addressing a public rally in Lahore before the elections, PTI chief Imran Khan pledged that he would always speak the truth to the nation after coming to power. This promise may seem like a small thing but, in fact, it is very significant and relevant in the context of our national politics. Calling a spade a spade is a tradition that has become almost non-existent in the country. Among other areas, this dual and dubious attitude of the government is quite evident on the drone issue. During the terms of president Musharraf and the last PPP government, the official stance of the government of Pakistan, on drone attacks has been, that the drones violated national sovereignty of Pakistan and were also against the international law and human rights. On the other hand, The Washington Post, on October 4, 2008, reported that there was a secret deal between the US and Pakistan allowing these attacks.

In November 2009, US senator Dianne Feinstein said that drones had been operated from the Shamsi and Shehbaz air bases of Pakistan. In December 2010, Wikileaks revealed that PM Yousaf Raza Gillani allowed drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan, saying that they would only protest the attacks in National Assembly and then ignore them. Likewise, it is also revealed that Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, not only tactically agreed to drone strategy but also requested Americans to increase them in 2008. Recently, former president Pervez Musharraf has substantiated all these allegations by formally acknowledging that he had given permission of limited drone strikes, in the country during his time in power.

Now, it’s time for Pakistan to end this dubious and ambiguous policy on the drone attacks as it is a pivotal point of the country’s over-all counter-terrorism strategy. If the government has secretly allowed these drone attacks, and it feels they help in anti-terror war, then it should take the nation into confidence by courageously telling the truth, and, if these drone attacks are going on without its authorization, then it has to perform it primary responsibility, demanded by the Article 245 of the Constitution, to defend the country against any external aggression.

For this, firstly, it should warn USA against any such further drone attacks, in case of non-compliance by the US, then it must shoot down the drones, exercising the right of self defense available to all member states under the UN charter. But, for all this, all power brokers and important decision makers in the country should be on the same page by integrating the counter-terrorism strategy in the country to its defense and foreign policy.

MOHSIN RAZA MALIK,

Lahore, June 6.