As the two main contenders for the White House vie with each other to assure the electorate that, given the opportunity to run the country post-November 6 polls, they would intensify drone attacks in the tribal region of Pakistan, it is refreshing to hear China reiterating its support of the call for putting an end to this senseless warfare. The support came when Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Zhao Qizheng addressed a joint press conference with Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Haji Muhammad Adeel at Islamabad on Monday. Mr Zhao said that these air raids were a violation of sovereignty.

Drones, misconceived by US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta as the “weapon of choice” in eradicating the scourge of terrorism, are, in reality, the surest way to draw even the most peaceful of Pashtuns to the ranks of militants in order to wreak vengeance for the loss of their kith and kin the merciless sorties of these pilot-less planes inflict. Thus, they are a self-defeating exercise. If it is being pursued to cloud the reality of defeat against a ragtag force of the Taliban in Afghanistan and project the casualties as gains in the war on terror, the twin myths have been conclusively exploded by the studies conducted by prestigious American research bodies and columnists. The sterling rule i.e. winning the hearts and minds of the people, which used to be a main plank in the war to overcome the menace and was much talked about in the initial phases of the campaign, seems to have now been forgotten. Apparently, repeated setbacks on the battlefield hardened the strategists’ resolve to win by force. That thread of winning over the people has to be picked up to bring this doleful chapter in the history of mankind to a close.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that armed action in North Waziristan is not the solution of the problem has to be viewed against this background. He also rightly pointed out that the drones were working against Pakistan’s efforts to check the incidence of terrorism. Hopefully, the US Ambassador-designate to Pakistan Richard Olson now that he has arrived in Pakistan would soon grasp the point that the people across the board here are against drone strikes not only because they violate our sovereignty, but also the frequent occurrences of the presumably accurate weapon’s mistargeting results in the loss of innocent lives and injects fresh blood into militancy. Mr Olson will soon see that Pakistanis and Americans share many common traits, among them: a fierce pride in their nation and a strong sense of family values. If Pakistan’s point of view is approached sympathetically, it can be easily understood. What Pakistan and the US must find is the space to achieve that mutual respect, that Ambassador Olson rightly spoke of. We wish the Ambassador good luck in finding this space for the benefit of both countries.