The US drones keep raining missiles on Pakistani soil while the government in Islamabad and our military remains totally mute over the issue, refraining even from issuing a simple statement of condemnation against the cruelty of such free usage of these killer gadgets. What was hitherto being speculated is now out in the open as a public fact after Mr AfPak of US State Dept. Richard Holbrook has confirmed that these vicious attacks are carried out by people sitting in US which strike the targets in 'close collaboration with the civil and military leadership of Pakistan. According to Mr Holbrook, these drones have helped improve the security environment at a very minimal cost. What is this 'minimal cost is a question he has not answered but one is compelled to ask it for it is the lives of innocent and poor Pakistani people that are gone in the puff of smoke every time a drone hits home a 'birdie. These are the poor, helpless wretches that are already living on the margins and cannot dare raise a voice for their fundamental right to live? Perhaps Mr Holbrooke could tell us in greater detail how their charred carcasses help improve the 'security environment and how much that helps in dissipation of militancy in the region? If you look at the gory statistics of deaths and destruction, the suicide bombings/target killings have not receded a bit in Pakistan nor are the people of Pakistan any more secure. The prospects of peace is nowhere on horizon, only dark clouds of an ongoing war on 'terror. No, the security environment has not improved a whit nor militancy eased up a bit. The only achievement of these drone attacks is for Washington. They are a declaration of empowerment of the US, against all norms of international law, to attack Pakistan territory and its people as and when it desires. That declaration is further reinforced when US marines and operatives of private security agencies roam around freely in huge SUVs, scaring the local populace with their mysterious demeanor and sinister activities. -UMAR QAYYUM MALIK, Islamabad, September 16.