Saeed Shah / McClatchy Newspapers & Afghanistan News & PressTV & IslamiNet – 2010-12-12 01:00:51
Pakistanis Protest Deaths in US Drone Attacks
Saeed Shah / McClatchy Newspapers
ISLAMABAD (December 11, 2010) — Victims of US drone attacks in Pakistan took to the streets for the first time in Islamabad on Friday, as a new report claimed there are significant numbers of civilian casualties from the strikes and a lawsuit seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from the CIA for those mistakenly injured or killed.
Fifteen people injured in the attacks or who claimed to have had relatives killed in the bombardment appeared and joined the $500 million lawsuit that began with one claimant last month in the Pakistani courts.
“Muslim blood has become a business,” said a protester, Samiullah, 21, a student who goes by one name and is from a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, part of the militant-plagued tribal area. “If they really were killing extremists, the deaths from drone strikes would be lessening the insurgency, which it isn’t.” Samiullah said his house was hit Aug. 11, 2009, as the family ate breakfast. Three of his young cousins were killed, and part of the home and two cars were destroyed, he said.
Friday’s small protest was hijacked by hard-line mullahs and others, who denounced the CIA and the Pakistani government and demanded an immediate end to the drone strikes.
Those who addressed the rally included Abdul Aziz Ghazi, the cleric from Islamabad’s Red Mosque, who has voiced support for al-Qaida, and Hameed Gul, a former Pakistani spymaster who gives strong vocal support to the Afghan Taliban. Some 300 people attended the rally.
“Today the spirit of jihad is alive in the people. We should not be afraid of dying,” said Ghazi, who was released from a Pakistani jail in 2009 after two years in custody for trying to establish an Islamic state inside the mosque compound.
Pakistan’s Islamist movement and many ordinary citizens condemn their government for cooperating with the US war on terrorism, in particular its clandestine support for the drones. Pakistan’s Taliban routinely cite revenge for drone attacks when carrying out terrorist attacks in their own country, leading many Pakistanis to think they’re paying an unacceptably high price for the country’s alliance with the US.
There’s been an increase in drone strikes under the Obama administration, a weapon the US considers highly effective, particularly against Taliban and al-Qaida extremists based across the border from Afghanistan in Pakistan’s remote tribal area.
The lawsuit, which stands little chance of being won, is lodged against the CIA station chief in Islamabad, identified as Jonathan Banks; CIA Director Leon Panetta; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There’s speculation that the publicity has compromised the position of the CIA chief in Pakistan. The US Embassy in Islamabad refused to confirm that Banks was the right person. “What CIA station chief? I can’t talk about employees,” embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said.
There was no way of verifying the stories of the drone victims who have come forward. They all denied links to militants and claimed the strikes were hitting mostly civilians.
There was another drone strike Friday, adding to the 107 recorded this year, according to a tally by the New America Foundation, an independent research organization based in Washington. That compares with 53 hits in 2009 and 34 in 2008. Of the strikes this year, 97 percent have been in North Waziristan, where many jihadist groups are based, including the Haqqani network, possibly the most effective insurgent outfit in Afghanistan.
Since the strikes began in 2004, 1,286 to 1,981 people have died in the bombardment, according to the New America Foundation. At least 32 senior al-Qaida, Afghan Taliban or Pakistani Taliban commanders were killed in those strikes.
Many of the rest would be midlevel militants and foot soldiers.
Civilian Victims’ Kin Protest against
CIA Drone Attacks in N. Waziristan
(December 9, 2010) — Two-dozen tribesmen hailing from the North Waziristan tribal region are staging a silent protest in Pakistan’s capital against US drone attacks along the Afghan border. The protesters in Islamabad identified themselves as relatives of the civilians who killed or wounded in the drone-fired missile strikes, the Dawn reported.
The tribesmen displayed banners criticizing the CIA-sponsored attacks while sitting silently near the Parliament building, and threatened to sue the United States unless it agreed to pay hundreds of millions in compensation for the victims. Although Pakistan publicly condemns the drone strikes, it is believed to secretly aid them.
Meanwhile, a report released by Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) has revealed that intelligence officials of US and Pakistan “deliberately overlook civilian fatalities and relay only censored accounts to Western media organizations.”
“However, study reports suggest that the civilian casualties generally outnumber the killings of militants in drone attacks,” said CMC’s monthly report that was released last week. According to the report, the month of November saw 15 drone strikes in North Waziristan, killing a total of 84 people, including a high number of civilians. The months of September and October witnessed 23 and 21 drone strikes respectively, resulting in over 400 casualties during the last three months.
Noting that despite these massive-scale drone strikes, no top ranked militant was targeted, the report said, “No high-value target was either killed or injured in drone attacks during the month, only a local militant commander, namely Mustafa, was killed in the attack on November 21.”
Pakistan Protests US Drone Attacks
The protesters condemned what they called the killings of over 2,000 civilians in the non-UN-sanctioned drone strikes since 2004. The activists also demanded that Washington pay compensations to the victims’ families and others that suffered losses in such attacks.
The US frequently carries out such attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas, claiming the airstrikes target militants. Most of the attacks, however, result in civilian casualties. The aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have escalated under President Barack Obama’s administration.
More than 700 people have been killed in the unsanctioned drone attacks since 2009. Over 90 percent of the victims were civilians. The issue of civilian casualties has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington with the Pakistani government repeatedly objecting to the attacks.
Two Anti-US Protests Staged in Pakistan only in a Week
IslamiNet & PressTV
PAKISTAN (December 10, 2010) — While the top-level government of Pakistan continues to keep the “harmonious” relation with the US, hundreds of Pakistanis poured down the street to stage protest against the US for blind drone attack that resulted in civilian casualties.
Only in this week, there had been two large-scale protests addressed to the US to as soon as possible leave Pakistan before the number of victims of the drone airstrike continues to grow.
The newest protest was held on Friday (10/12/2010) morning with the same issue of the US’s drone attack to civilians. The previous protest against the US invasion in Pakistan was staged on Thursday (09/12/2010) where protesters demanded the Washington to compensate the victims of US blind drone attack.
The use of drone attack by the US in Pakistan has lured a great number of criticism since such a method of attack has left more than 2,000 civilians martyred since 2004. The US alone insists carrying out the drone attack because they do believe that it is a useful attack to tackle the Mujahideen. But, the US’s alliance in the Pakistani government, PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, said that the use of drone is ‘counterproductive.’ “We have repeatedly said the drone attacks are counterproductive,” he said.
Not only in Pakistan is the use of drone attack, but also in the country’s neighbour, Afghanistan. PressTV reported on Wednesday (08/12/2010) that three Afghan women were martyred following the blind US drone attack in Nad Ali district of Helmand Province. Despite its coverage on such a war crime, the UN keeps in still with no reaction at all.
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