By the directive of President Barack Obama, the CIA was allowed to side step protocol for drone strikes, and was given more flexibility in Pakistan than anywhere else. The rules were designed to reduce the risk of civilian casualties, but not in the case of Pakistan, the US does not give us this consideration. Now that two foreigners held hostage have been killed by the drone strikes, the truth has come out. Pakistani lives don’t matter so long as the American is safe at home with a trigger happy CIA at the helm. The situation sounds like a ridiculous episode of Homeland and the U.S. President should be ashamed for skirting international law through the illegal and reckless drone program.
Obama apologized for the killings and took personal responsibility for the mistake and called the operation “fully consistent with the guidelines under which we conduct counterterrorism efforts.” But these guidelines were already loosened. The rule is that the US had to have “near-certainty” no civilians would be injured or killed and that the threat to the US needed to be imminent. The CIA drone program in Pakistan was exempted from the “imminent threat” requirement, at least until US forces pulled out from Afghanistan. This allowed the CIA to conduct ‘signature strikes’ – a type of drone strike in which the US believes an individual is a militant, but does not know his identity, and more targeted attacks without collecting specific evidence that the target posed an imminent threat to the US.
This means that Pakistan has a heavier handed drone program than even Somalia and Yemen. We can thus draw two conclusions about US policy. Either the US sees the presence of militancy in Pakistan a greater threat to its security, than anything else in the world (including Yemen and Iraq). Or the Pakistani establishment has allowed the US a free hand. If the latter is true, which in the last fifteen years it has been rumoured and alleged, then the Pakistan military and security establishment is to blame for being a pushover at the least, and complicit at the most. If the former is true, and the US is killing civilians under relaxed protocol, our intelligence agencies need to wake up and start gathering information to contain the mess that the US is making of our security policy.
But the biggest culprit is the US, from the Afghan War in the 1980s, to the current drone strikes. The country has brought us only misery and death.