Pakistan seems to be growing increasingly frustrated at American airstrikes. The incessant strikes that American forces claim are geared towards flushing out extremists is growing increasingly unpopular in the Asian nation. On Saturday, many people marched in protest in the city of Peshawar to protest against the strikes which they claim has had a horrible outcome on the innocent citizenry of the border regions of the country.
Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned politician had organized the march after what he claimed was inaction from the government of Pakistan against the US on the drone strikes. The strikes are being mainly concentrated in the country’s border regions which have become something of a home for both Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists. Mr Khan has pointed an accusing the finger at the Unites States for doing more harm than good. He believes they are doing more harm than good to the peace talks with the Taliban. “There can be no peace unless drones are stopped,” Khan said.
According to the country’s interior minister, the country had been about to enter into peace talks with the Taliban but the talk had to be cancelled due to the death of the Taliban leader in Pakistan. Hakimullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader, was killed in on the 1st of November by the drone strikes and the talks inevitably had to be called off. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the interior minister insisted the drone attacks are being viewed as an attack on the peace process. “The government of Pakistan does not see this drone attack as an attack on an individual but as an attack on the peace process,” the minister said. Pakistan even went as far as summoning the American envoy to protest the attack. Pakistan police had to stop a group of protesters protesting against U.S. drone strikes from blocking the tracks of vehicles conveying NATO troop supplies to Afghanistan Monday.
Though the defense Ministry in Pakistan has come out with a figure of just 67 civilian casualties in drone attacks, the United Nations claims that there have been about 400 innocent civilian victims of the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since 2008. This is an estimate and there is a tendency for this to just be put seen as numbers. It is however important, according to Jennifer Gibson, a US advocate for the Pakistan family which has suffered from the strikes to put a human face to each of these numbers.
Every casualty has a face and there are actual people hurt. One of such families recently came to Capitol Hill to say their story in front of the United States congress. Rafik Rahim and his children Zubair, 13, and Nbila, 9, came to the United States to share their story of anguish with the American people. Rafik, who lost his mother while she was working in a vegetable garden to one of many American drone strikes said, “I’ve never done wrong to anyone, so why did I get hurt?”
Though the protests have been hailed in some quarters, they have been largely dismissed as being farcical in some quarters saying the economy should remain a priority. “The provincial government has done nothing so far for the welfare of common people,” said Ajmal Khan, a Pakistani shopkeeper is quoted to have said by the New York Times.
By Olajide Jatto