The United States has again arrogantly defended drone attacks in Pakistan after killing Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and five others in an attack in North Waziristan. The strike enraged the Pakistani government, coming just as peace talks between the Pakistani government and the group were set to start.

Pakistan condemned the attack as a violation of its sovereignty. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the interior minister, said, “This is not just the killing of one person, it’s the death of all peace efforts”.

Pakistan drone attacks

The attack came just weeks after the release of an Amnesty International report condemning the attacks as a violation of international law, and describing some cases as war crimes. It even added that US officials responsible for the secret CIA campaign should stand trial.

The report highlighted cases of civilian deaths like the grandmother killed while picking vegetables, and 18 labourers slain as they waited to eat dinner. An investigation by Human Rights Watch into drone strikes in Yemen has drawn similar conclusions.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had demanded an end to drone strikes just over a week before in a meeting with the US President in Washington, and campaigned on the issue before his election earlier this year. Opposition leader Imran Khan has threatened to block trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan if the attacks don’t stop.

Even Malala Yousafzai, a teenager shot by the Taliban, expressed her opposition to drone attacks while being thanked at the White House last month, “for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls’ education in Pakistan”.

She told the gathering that, “Drone attacks are fuelling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

But the US, determined to maintain its place at the top of the imperialist world order, sees the drones as an indispensible part of its 21st century war machine.

In her book in her book Drone warfare: Killing by remote control, Medea Benjamin notes that, “In 2000, the Pentagon had fewer than 50 aerial drones; 10 years later, it had nearly 7500.”

Mark Goudkamp

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