30 C
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Generic filters
EditorialPakistan and drone strikes

Pakistan and drone strikes

After a hiatus of almost one year since US troops left Afghanistan in August 2021, it has been the first drone attack in Kabul that killed al-Qaida’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The particular air strike, that successfully achieved its target, has also given birth to certain speculations of more such attacks in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. How could it be possible that a drone flies directly from the US without using the airspace of any other state? Is there any link between the latest drone attack with Pakistan?

Media reports have started pouring in with particular questions and would continue to poke queries at the concerned authorities unless the latter come up with a satisfactory reply. Pakistan’s foreign office has to answer whether Pakistani airspace was used or not and whether the former was aware of the target or not.

It has been reported in the media that the US drone flew from a friendly Middle-Eastern country, most probably the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and used Pakistan’s airspace. Reportedly, the US had given advance notice for airspace permission and the route of the drone. However, Pakistan was possibly not aware of the target. Although Pakistan has denied any cooperation in facilitating the covert attack, yet fingers are being raised about a new possible deal between the government of Pakistan and the US to fight militancy in Afghanistan.

There were also certain developments ahead of the drone attack that strengthened the idea of a possible renewed cooperation between both states. Just a week ago, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa made a phone call to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and asked the US to push the IMF for early disbursement of $1.2 billion as Pakistan faced the risk of debt default due to dwindling foreign reserves. However, further contents of the call were not disclosed by the Foreign Office. Then there are reports of Pak rupee recovery that have taken up an upward flight against the dollar after almost two days of the drone strike. Pakistan Stock Exchange has also recorded a positive trend quiet lately.

These developments hint at a covert deal but things will clear in the coming days. In the past too, Pakistani authorities have denied any role in the conduct of drone strikes. Though it was termed illegal on all platforms and time and again Pakistan protested against these strikes. Drone strikes have proved effective for the US as it had used this technology to achieve its targets without making its footprint on the enemy’s land but these strikes violate fundamental rights and territorial integrity of sovereign states. Moreover, such strikes promote extremism and add fuel to the fire.

In the past, drone strikes resulted in nothing but misery and despair for the affected areas such as tribal areas in Pakistan. The locals were unable to get a good night’s sleep due to the sounds of the drones hovering over the skies that could potentially target them.

However, the main issue remains that these areas were hotbeds of terror activities and militants assimilated themselves amongst the locals over the years. Hence, it became a precarious task to identify potential terror suspects. Pakistan had strong views against drone strikes but there was a great degree of hypocrisy in this regard. In the past, civilian and military officials publicly condemned drone attacks for face-saving purposes, as it was widely known within certain sections of the international community that the strikes had the discreet backing of Pakistani state officials.

Reportedly, the state’s security apparatus used to directly consult with US forces on when and where to conduct drone strikes. Furthermore, the state also provided the US with Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan for the same purpose.

Once again, there are high risks involved in carrying out the strikes given the fallout resulting from collateral damages. However, defence experts claim that the strikes could be far more accurate than carpeting bombing or air force-based aerial strikes due to their high precision rate.

Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror is highly appreciated but here is another example where elements of the state remained in denial mode similar to the stance on drone strikes. Hence, Pakistan needs to clearly come out of dualism and remain a responsible state in the international community. Protecting the so-called “strategic assets” won’t be of any help and steps need to be taken for stronger defence and foreign policies. Drone strikes are indeed unhelpful in reducing the menace of extremism but the state needs to define its core objectives in a subtle and transparent manner before anyone else gets a chance to point fingers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Subscribe Today





Get unlimited access to our EXCLUSIVE Content and our archive of subscriber stories.

Top News

More articles