As the mob continues baying for American blood over Hellfire Predator Drones launched into Pakistani TTP targets, we find the number of civilians killed since the beginning of the year= Zero.
Civilian deaths this year have been from Pakistan’s fighting in North Waziristan and the Port City of Karachi. Specifically, civilian deaths are coming from TTP. In-fighting among the TTP, and Mosques targeted by that group can hardly be called collateral damage when it is purposeful. The targeting of innocent Shia by Salafists, Deobandi extremists, Lashkar-e-Yazid, Al Qaeda affiliates and TTP are with genocidal intentions, minorities are murdered based on Blasphemy pretext, in FATA and Karachi. Perhaps most stunning is that the Pakistani Air Force leapt from narcolepsy and sprang into action specifically targeting Taliban in North Waziristan with conventional weapons.
The impressive fact remains that given the inflated statistics when American drones are launched, it is telling that the civilian deaths are suppressed when Pak military is involved. It may be of interest that while there have been civilian casualties from military operations in North Waziristan this year, there were none from U.S. Drones. This is due to President Obama’s orders since the beginning of 2014 to temporarily cease Predator Drones launched into Pakistan. The U.S. President, senior congressional committees, and military commanders are re-evaluating strategies amid the on-going Afghanistan pull-out of U.S. forces.
The FATA civilian casualties this year have come from the Pak Air Force, a much less precision-based technology than Predator Drones. Thus, the problematic internal issue that plagues Pakistan still, is that air strikes by the Pakistani Air Force, that killed approximately 60 people in North Waziristan on May 21, 2014, included an unspecified number of civilian casualties along with it. Of course, because this was Pakistan military, there is no reporting of civilian tragedies in mainstream press. According to sources inside Waziristan those figures are silenced under threat from Jihadists. Among the pro-Jihadist press, including Al Jazeera, withholding anti-Taliban information is commonplace and fabrication is often printed, and then repeated, ever in the odor of the fake-liberal establishment sanctity.
Despite the outcry against my article on some blogs and Twitter: “U.S. Predator Drones Need only be Feared by Terrorists” -by Rusty Walker, there are many that agree with my research, including the enemy themselves, the TTP, as you will as you see read on.
Overarching all this, Predator Drones have been effective in foreign countries where military brigades or Special Forces may have been the strategic solution in year’s past:
“Drones are necessary: No matter drones are operated by US Air Force, CIA, ISI or Pak Air Force” – by Saif RK “Even so, supporters of enemies of Pakistan made it controversial all the time for their own vested interests. They blamed that US drones are counterproductive and civilians are killed not terrorists. Although figures of casualties shows that drones in the favor of Pakistan. Estimates of noncombatants killed in drone strikes vary from 3% to 15 %. Different NGOs, AI and rights groups claimed that at least 15% noncombatants were killed while Pakistan’s interior minister revealed official version of Pakistan, while addressing in parliament that only 3% noncombatants were killed in drone strikes and in year 2012 no civilian was killed, while 2160 terrorists had been killed and number of civilians was 67.In year 2013 too, there was no civilian casualty reported.”
Saif Ur Rehman continues:
“The General Officer Commanding 7 -Division, a two -star major -general has unveiled truth about drone attacks while briefing in Mirali in North Waziristan , that “many of those killed in drone strikes are hardcore elements” and that “a sizeable number” were “foreigners”. He also categorically said that “there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes , but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists”. According to the officer, between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists killed. Of those killed , 793 were locals and 171 foreigners. Under US President Barack Obama , in year 2010 , around 423 terrorists were dead. This is nice development because this time pakistani general has admitted this fact that drone attacks are necessary for to eradicate terrorism.”
Consider the opinion Tweeted by the fearless journalist and former editor of Dawn, Abbas Nasir:
“He shld tell his leader MT @myraemacdonald: US #drones are better than PAF jets,” says Rustam Shah Mohmand http://www.dawn.com/news/1109300 #FATA”
One cannot help but note that this sensible Tweet, is followed by the usual vitriolic comments, as this heated topic and opposition to drones, inflame passions that overrule facts. The responses are usually cherry-picked data from biased sources that becomes not only tiresome, but myth-making.
Mistakes are certain in war. In Yemen, civilian casualties from May 2013 to May 2014, 16 civilians were killed in U.S. drone strikes. But, this is in contrast to hundreds of terrorists that were taken out. Last December a drone strike mistakenly targeted a wedding party because intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying al Qaeda operatives. This was an egregious and regretful U.S. mistake. These are the high-profile reports that, while a misfortune for all concerned, and one we hope never to repeat, they do not reverse the logic that in the overwhelming cases drones avoid civilians and kill terrorists. While the Deobandi Salafists targeting civilians are not mistakes. Purposeful bombings during Muharram and Shia ‘majalis’ (gatherings) to review Islamic teachings and to commemorate Imam Hussain’s sacrifice; Takfiri Salafists terrorize and blow up mosques to make their points on civilians – men, women and children’s blood.
There is additional corroboration on my conclusions in this recent article from DAWN. Statements from alarmed militants provide potent confirmation. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (TTP) declares the following in DAWN:
“The US drones were better weapons to use against militants as compared to Pakistan Air Force jets, believes Rustam Shah Mohmand, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-appointed member of the government committee to negotiate with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)….Drones are more precise in targeting militants than the jets the air force is using, which cause heavy collateral damage,” he told Dawn. “The government should have formed a strategy in collaboration with the US to carry out strikes using drones.”
North Waziristan is a formidable hub of international Islamist militancy. Al Qaeda, Pashtun and Punjabi Taliban jihadists are all sheltered in Waziristan. This sheltering is not by invitation. The tribal communities of North Waziristan have no recourse but to harbor terrorists amongst them. Through the early stages of the Talibization of Waziristan it is often forgotten that the tribal communities were invaded by Taliban and al Qaeda, as tribal leaders and their sons were murdered the message was sent, that this once peaceful community, left defenseless by the Pakistani government, was to be the ISI-sanctioned Deobandi terrorist region.
The infusion of Taliban, who store munitions, and their groups in Tribal “houses” or compounds, call them what you will, terrorists encroach into tribal proximity at will. This necessarily causes civilian deaths, by Pakistan Army Air Force and U.S. Predator Drones, alike. These are accidental collateral damage. Remember that the deaths from the various terrorist groups on both sides of the Durand Line intentionally target innocents: Haqqani network (Islamist group lead by Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani), all Takfiri Deobandis associated with TTP/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Deobandi ASWJ-D/ SSP/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)/and al Qaeda are targeting civilians – deaths that are not collateral damage.
When President Obama refers to al Qaeda splinter groups, it is a simplification, probably out of necessity. Al Qaeda, due to 9/11, and the death of bin Laden are highlighted, but, there is a common thread far outreaching Arab Wahhabis. The thread is “Salafists”- Sunni-radicals, that are Takfiri- that is, considering themselves the gatekeepers of their radical interpretation of the Quran and Islamic religion. This is why Shia are being killed in genocidal numbers by Muslims- murdered in the name of “apostasy,” as are Christians, Hindus, Sufis, and Ahmadis. It is complex, because it must be understood that Sunnis as an Islamic group are a devote and non-violent sect of Islam. Therefore it is the network of radical religious, often Saudi-funded, who are Takfiri groups in Pakistan, but also spread globally. While terrorists may be Arab, Punjabi or Pushtuns, Americans must be educated to understand that “Arab, Punjabi or Pushtuns” per se, are upstanding individuals- the majority of these ethnic groups are peaceful devote people. Simplified: It is the radical Islamists of these sects and ethnic groups that are the terrorists. They are infiltrated into Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, as well as the Syrian rebels, along with Pakistan’s FATA.
Prime Minister Sharif entered into the pretense of negotiation with Taliban. These are not people to be believed. It only strengthens their image. They will tell you what you want to hear. The Taliban are simply waiting for the American troops to leave, and then they will start their campaign; a campaign into Afghanistan intent on laying ruin to Kabul, public torturous reprisals against those who opposed them. This is not their full agenda. They have already infiltrated Pakistani ISI and military. A path to ‘Talibanize’ first Afghanistan and then, Pakistan. This will facilitate the next goal. They will be intent on acquiring nuclear weapons from Pakistan. There are no consequences to the Taliban for breaking negotiated agreements. It is in the best interest of terrorist groups to continue to delude P.M. Sharif, President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and exploit their naivety, while Afghan Taliban bide their time. In war and politics, Jihadist groups are in negotiation only as long as you can do something for them, or to them.
The fruitless peace process in February apparently brought the Pak Air Force out of their deep sleep, awaking from their intentional slumber to launch a series of airstrikes last week against militant targets in North Waziristan. Well done! However, these conventional attacks left civilian casualties not mentioned in the mainstream press. The airstrikes were launched against known militant targets in Miram Shah and Mir Ali, the main towns in North Waziristan where considerable collateral damage was to be expected.
When Predator Drones are criticized, forgotten is the positive high-value targets that are killed, which is their raison d’être.
The Maulana Fazlullah image above reflects last year last year’s successful Predator Drone hit. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Afghanistan-based Taliban was killed by a U.S. Drone. Maulana Fazlullah, who took his place in Afghanistan-based Taliban now struggles with in-fighting. There is a split within TTP. Divide and conquer: The disputes turned deadly, pitting fighters loyal to Mr. Sayed (self-named: “Sajna”), against those of another commander, Shehryar Mehsud. The Sajna faction is backed by the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Gun battles ripped through South and North Waziristan as these two rival groups attacked bases and ambushed one another, leading to the deaths of dozens of fighters. It is the TTP that has turned its weapons squarely against their own fellow jihadist fighters in the Afghan Taliban, and, also civilians: they have assassinated innocent religious scholars, carried suicide bombings under pseudonyms. It isn’t the drones that are responsible for rising civilian deaths, it is the Deobandi TTP, al Qaeda and Punjabi Taliban fighters sheltered in Waziristan.
Fazlullah originates from Pakistan’s SWAT Valley and is now based in the mountains of Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan, and like all Taliban fighters moves easily back and forth across the Pakistani border. Both feuding groups routinely use the tribal belt as a base to carry out attacks on military and civilian targets in Afghanistan. All these rival groups are currently being supported by the ISI. All of these groups routinely target civilians.
These Taliban cells also operate in Karachi, where the militants have become increasingly dominant in ethnic Pashtun neighborhoods over the past 18 months. The Pakistani Taliban, TTP has murdered thousands of men, women and children in suicide attacks across Pakistan since it was officially formed in December 2007. This statistic is never mentioned in the same breath as Predator Drones when discussion of collateral damage is broached. In order to have perspective, one must remember who the enemy is. Terrorists kill civilians. Muslims kill Muslims. In FATA there are more deaths of innocents since 2001 from Muslim on Muslim violence than by any US means. Predator Drones are only a small statistic with regards to the Pakistani terrorist invasion of tribal lands, genocidal attacks on Shia, unprovoked murders on minorities, kidnapping, beheadings of live victims, and the virtual expropriation of FATA, which is neglected by the Pakistani government, and the Pakistan military, and supported by Pakistan’s own security apparatus: the ISI. No wonder the children there are drawn to radical Madrassas by Mullahs that provide education and food, and that graduate suicide-bombers.
Because it is an intriguing narrative of fiction that drones commonly kill civilians, not terrorists, it has become the mantra of conventional wisdom. But like most conventional wisdom, it is wrong. It is always instructive to look at one’s conclusions through the point of view of those most affected: “US drones are better weapons to use against militants as compared to PAF jets.” – Rustam Shah Mohmand, PTI-appointed committee to negotiate with TTP.” That seems clear.
The following is in agreement with my last article: Mohmand, whom PTI chief Imran Khan declared the party’s point man on the TTP and militancy, now thinks Pakistan should have utilised the accuracy of drones….”Pakistan should have had acquired drones from the US and operated them for the North Waziristan strikes, or it should have had collaborated with the US over authentic information about ground targets to reduce collateral damage.”
Detractors of the U.S. and of my conclusions, should remember, we are allies. The U.S. and Pakistan does collaborate. The wish that you should have “collaborated with the US over authentic information about ground targets to reduce collateral damage” is a wish granted. No one wants collateral damage. The irony here is that since Admiral Mullen’s tenure a few years ago, we have been in close collaboration with Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and since last year, General Raheel Sharif. We are publically cool to each other, but the chill lessens when in private collaboration.
The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) theater of responsibility includes countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, most notably South Asia- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. USCENTCOM (also called CENTCOM). Current Gen Lloyd Austin, and prior Commanders Gen James Mattis, LtGen John R. Allen, and the well-known Gen David H. Petraeus have all, as a matter of protocol, collaborated closely with Pakistan’s military. Pakistan is of prime importance for the region and must be stable.
Admiral Mullen, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a close relationship with General Kayani. General Mullen in a speech at Kansas State University described Afghanistan as “a fight against a syndicate of Islamic extremists led by al-Qaeda and supported by a host of both state and non-state actors”, citing the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan as their ‘epicenter’. The “border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” has been referred to as Pashtunistan, and the well known Durand Line is an invisible demarcation. A line that is crossed at will by terrorists groups. Noting the “state and non-state actors” is a transparent acceptance of ISI support and elements across that line, and within the Pakistan military and Frontier Corps that are pro-Taliban.
The Dawn asserts, “Collateral damage caused by PAF jets in North Waziristan has forced several families to migrate to Afghanistan.” This is Pakistan’s answer to terrorist attacks, and causes far more damage to civilian homes, and civilian casualties, as it is not high-technology, precision weaponry- Predator Drones are precision weapons expressly created for the least amount of collateral damage.
So, the headline of my article is due to confirmation even from the New America Foundation statistics that reported no civilian casualties from CIA drone strikes this year, but neglected civilian casualties from PAF operations. The Pakistani military oppose drone strikes publically on the grounds of compromising national sovereignty, while condoning them privately. Both the U.S. military top commanders and Pakistani Chief of Staff have met and agree on compromises moving forward and these efforts by the Pak military are a reflected in increased PAF strikes into North Waziristan. Thus, some credit must be given to the Pakistani military for these limited operations against terrorists. Driving the belated, but welcomed, PAF action is the escalation of Pakistani tribal bloodshed due to the in-fighting amongst the TTP, and threatened stability of FATA, other provinces, cities, and most notably Karachi, where PAF strikes are impossible.
Last year President Obama’s National Defense University speech outlined his ambition to “wind down” the “boundless global war on terror” and “perpetual wartime footing.” The result has been that the CIA drone program in Pakistan was discontinued this year. Prior to this 370 drone strikes across the Durand Line in the past decade have killed approximately 3000 suspected jihadists, not discounting the small number of civilian casualties within striking distance.
Obama has now stated that there ‘be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured” for strikes to be authorized. Still, it would be a mistake to conjecture that Hellfire Predator Drones are going away. On the contrary, strategies are becoming more sophisticated and used with more discretion than in the past several years. With more calibrated use of drone strikes the number of combatants have diminished, and the number of accidental civilian casualties. The U.S. drone program draws part of its legality from the (AUMF) Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. The discontinuance of the AUMF is unlikely given positive Republican sentiment in the U.S. Congress.
I have been consistent in saying this: There would be no need for U.S. drones into Pakistan if the Pakistani government was serious in defeating terrorism within its own borders. Mohmand makes my point for me: “Pakistan should have had acquired drones from the US and operated them for the North Waziristan strikes” This is a sensible alternative.
Moral outrage should be against the Deobandi Takfiri Salafists, the TTP and al Qaeda affiliates that purposely target civilians, not the U.S. Drones that kill them.