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In Defence of Drones – Salman Zaidi

drone-EPA11121211231111-640x4801st November, 2013 was about to pass as an ordinary day when I heard the news that the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief died in a drone strike, my happiness knew no bounds, but the news wasn’t confirmed yet and like many friends , I wanted the news to be true which later on did turn out to be true.

What followed afterwards was a mix reaction from the people as well as our leaders, Imran Khan, the chairman of PTI condemned the drone strike and blamed USA for sabotaging peace talks, Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat ud Dawa (defunct Lashkar e Tayyaba) demanded from the government to shoot down drones as they violated our sovereignty, the foreign office as well the interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan condemned the drone strike.

Our Prime Minister returned from his visit to the US a week ago, drones were on his agenda as according to the popular opinion drones violate our sovereignty and kill innocent civilians, well before saying that I think our Prime Minister who also happens to be the Foreign Minister as well as the Defense Minister needs to understand what exactly the word “sovereignty” means, according to the dictionary, it means authority over a specific area, so going by that definition, can we say that we hold authority over those areas in which drone strikes occur ? Can an ordinary citizen like me go visit those areas without any hassle ? I guess even a 4th grader would say NO. So what is this fuss about sovereignty ? When the Government, Army and the political leaders want to talk peace with those who keep on killing us, they should be happy with the drones who are doing the dirty work for the Army.
Hellfire Missiles fired from drones cause lesser damage than the missiles fired from F-16 or a JF-17 Thunder, we don’t have drone technology, we don’t want to go after these terrorists and when someone is eliminating them for us, we whine about it, no matter how hard we try, u can’t talk peace with savages, they were dislodged from Swat with a military action and not talks, same holds true for South Waziristan.

Though we see news reports and researches telling that drones are lethal and kill innocents but there are people from the same tribal areas who call the same drones “Safeenay Farishtay” or white angels because they know they will eliminate terrorists. So I would believe those tribal people more than these reports and researches since no journalists are allowed to go there so these reports can never be accurate. From the past many days and particularly when Hakimullah Mehsud was killed, there were people telling me not to celebrate because drones kill innocent people as well, my question for them is, why would innocent people live with the Taliban, either those “innocent people” are Taliban themselves or their accomplices.

Secondly, the government of Pakistan has released the data about the number of innocent people killed in drone strikes, which is 67, I can guarantee this toll would have been way higher, had we bombarded the same areas with our warplanes, we keep on ranting about violation of our sovereignty and killings of innocents in drone strikes, yet we do nothing to dislodge and eliminate those elements due to which drone strikes occur.

Is it not the failure of the political as well as the armed leadership that they have not destroyed these terrorist safe havens, it is because of them the “innocents” are dying in drone strikes and our sovereignty too is being violated. We are still treating FATA in the same way British treated it more than a century ago, the world has changed, the tribals wish to be included in the mainstream Pakistani diaspora which is evident from the ANP tribal jirga held 4 years ago in which tribal elders were of the view that FATA should either be made a separate province with complete provincial status or it should be merged into Khyber Pakhtunkha.

So I guess it would be wiser to put our house in order before complaining about drone strikes, I would call it a violation of our sovereignty the day state of Pakistan would be able to exercise authority over FATA and it will be free of terrorists. Until then, I am sorry, at least I won’t be the one complaining about drone strikes.

Related: “More drones are better”: demand the indigenous people of Waziristan and tribal areas

About the author


Ali Abbas Taj is the Editor of Let Us Build Pakistan.
@aliabbastaj on Twitter


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  • Sir on what basis we claim our sovereignty over that areas.It is 65 years till our independence and we are still unable to place that regions in any Province.They are being called as FATA (Tribal Areas).We are scared from what that we even did’nt gave that region a status of province same is the case with FANA which is so called given the status of Province .We cant claim our rights at any region as far as we deprived that areas from their rights and one fact more that when we search the history that FATA peoples contributed alot in the independence of Kashmir and in all the War against the Indians so First we have to look into our acts that what we have done to that people for which they are against us now…And one thing more other countries people have been protesting against this Drone Strike and in our country there is division in the thought about this issue and i totally disagree with the figures given by Pakistan Government that are killed with drone stirke and the greatest evidence of that is the documentary of JAMIMA Khan ..

  • I am sorry but I don’t agree with your stance on drone attacks at all..don’t you realize that killing the Taliban leader will only breed more extremists and further instill anti-American sentiments in those tribal regions? For the past decade, human beings, Muslims and Pakistanis are being slaughtered in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan due to this “war on terror”. This pointless war has lead to nothing. We must look for an alternative solution and give peace talks a chance.