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Drone strikes in Pakistan: Reapers of their Own Destruction


mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Most Pakistanis reject the Taliban and other extremists. But they also reject the American drones that violate their sovereignty and operate with impunity. The Pakistani resistance, along with growing opposition within the United States, has had an impact: the number of Predator and Reaper drone strikes in Pakistan has been steadily declining, from a high of 122 in 2010 to 48 in 2012, and even fewer this year. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>On November 1 a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone killed Hakimullah Mehsud and at least four others. Mehsud was head of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group responsible for the killing of thousands in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban also claimed responsibility for the failed bomb plot at New York's Times Square in 2010, and was connected with the killing of seven CIA employees in Afghanistan in 2009. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan charged that the drone attack that killed Mehsud also blew up the government's efforts at negotiations, and that peace talks could not move forward until there was an end to drone attacks in Pakistan. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>The November 23 attack was particularly embarrassing for the Pakistani government because it came just one day after foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told parliament the US had agreed to suspend drone attacks while the Pakistani government was in peace talks with the Taliban. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>At the Saturday rally, PTI leader Imran Khan threatened to organize a long-term blockade of the NATO supply route. Any prolonged disruption of the key route in the KP province could disrupt the U.S. plans to remove troops, weapons and equipment from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Imran Khan also used the rally to attack Prime Minister Sharif’s government for failing to force the Americans to halt drone strikes. Sharif has been outspoken against the strikes, even during the election campaign. After becoming prime minister in June, he publicly ordered the military to end its policy of “condemning drones in public while being complicit in them.” During an October meeting in Washington with President Obama, Sharif reiterated his belief that drone strikes were counterproductive and should end. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>The two drone strikes in November show that these attacks don’t just kill and maim individuals. They also blow up peace talks. They weaken democratically elected governments. They sabotage bilateral relations. They sow hatred and resentment. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of the human rights group mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”> and the peace group CODEPINK font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control