Concessions & Collateral Damage : CIA Drones in Pakistan – Part 2

January 22, 2010

Reconciling CIA Drones in Pakistan

Reconciling CIA Drones in Pakistan

Click here to Read the First Part: Reconciling CIA Drones in Pakistan Part 1

Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with officials in Islamabad to reiterate the importance of drone attacks, despite escalating reservations of their use amongst Pakistani’s. It’s been a polarizing issue from the onset because while it’s convenient to fly unmanned CIA predator aircraft over potential terrorist havens, they result in significant civilian casualties, and displaced persons. So it’s no surprise that over a year later, reconciling their use in Pakistan is still on the agenda.

For this reason, Secretary Gates announced a possibility of America providingPakistan with 12 unarmed Shadow aircraft”. Meaning the planes would not have a capacity to strike, but offer enhanced “surveillance capabilities under U.S. supervision”. It’s a fair decision and something I’ve suggested previously.

Supplying drones to close allies who aid in our War Efforts absolves us of sole liability for collateral damage wreaked by these machines that are always controversial, and increasingly protested internationally.

Gates also stressed the importance of militarily addressing all extremist groups because:

“It’s dangerous to single out any one of these groups and say, ‘If we could beat that group that would solve the problem,’ because they are in effect a syndicate of terrorist operators”

And almost simultaneously, Secretary Clinton unveiled The Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy which sends an increase of 20-30% in civilian experts to both countries and “outlines plans to rebuild the Afghan farm sector, improve governance, and reintegrate extremists into society”. But this strategy of “reintegrating extremists” runs in contradiction to Secretary Gates’ aforementioned remarks.

Gates ruled out any possibility of reintegration calling for a consolidated attack on extremists suggesting that they work in “syndication”, while Cinton’s plan attempts to bring extremists back into the fold of moderate society.

It’s a stark inconsistency in our foreign policy. Because while I think Secretary Clinton’s idea notion of reintegration is more in tune with ground realities, and therefore viable, I figure Secretary Gates was being staunch in talks because finally relinguishing partial drone technology provided him with that margin of hawkishness. Either way though, one thing is certain, despite skepticism on both ends of the U.S. Pakistan relationship, cooperation is ever deepening.




  1. Isn’t it unfortunate that successive US govts. have made costly blunders viz a viz their foreign policy decisions. Recently it was admitted by secretary Clinton that leaving Afghanistan in a mess post Soviet withdrawal was a colossal misjudgment. Who could have imagined in United States at that time of the disaster this decision was going to spell for humanity, well, we in Pakistan were quite aware of the fallout of that war on Pakistan at least.
    The attitude of the US govt. towards Pakistan was disgusting, as if a mercenary force had been hired for the operations and left to its own on completion of the task. The sole Superpower showing total lack of foresight and imagination in visualizing the repercussions of leaving a fairly large, highly motivated, well equipped and thoroughly professional force rudderless. The mujahideen were battle hardened and had ample resources, so how could someone imagine that they would gradually pass into oblivion and the developed world would live in peace ever after.
    It was important to recall these facts so that correct line of action for future could be suggested. The fact of the matter is that discussion on effectiveness or ineffectiveness of drones is just a very minor issue if we have the vision to comprehend the problem in its totality. May i give the example of four blind persons trying to perceive an elephant, the one who felt its trunk called it a python, the other touched its leg and declared it was similar to a pillar, the third got hold of its tusk and said it was like a dagger, the fourth got under its belly and called it a roof. Unluckily neither the American wizards nor the Pakistani think tanks have been able to come out with a solution which encompasses all aspects of the problem. Drone attacks were, no doubt, very effective in eliminating a large part of Alqaeda and Taliban leadership, yet they were not followed by measures necessary to take full advantage of these successes. The vacuum in leadership was not exploited to the best of advantage, cosequently new leadership emerged from among their ranks and filled the vacuum. Just the elimination of leadership shouldn’t have been the objective, the alternate planted leadership should’ve been ready to fill that vacuum and break the momentum of war. Efforts to create rifts between surviving leaders should’ve been made.
    Alienating the general public from militants should be an essential part of the overall strategy. Squeezing the pipeline through which the resources flow to the militants is another measure that hasn’t got the attention it deserved. Fighting militants on the ground of their choice and liking suits them , conversely cutting off their lines of communication from settled areas will definitely go to the advantage of Pak and Allied forces. We need to stop the flow of manpower from settled areas to FATA as well.
    The Af Pak regional stabilization strategy as envisaged by secretary Clinton should also be implemented without delay. Once again i would like to point to the bitter fact that the funds meant for development of tribal belt have gone elsewhere. Hardly any worthwhile project has been undertaken in FATA which could have a lasting effect on the lives of the people or which could bring prosperity to the area. Prosperity results from sustained economic activity and it also changes the culture of the land. Developing a comprehensive communication network, added facilities for education, provision of health services, initiation of extensive economic activity will slowly and gradually change the mindset in these areas, provided a first positive step in the correct direction is taken.
    Nevertheless, the military action on both sides of the border should also continue. The problem of militancy has to be addressed militarily. The interests of the people of the region may not necessarily be similar to the interests of the militants, so the two game plans must move ahead parallel to each other.


  2. Answer to a couple of FAQs.
    drone attacks have a very positive outcome provided the follow up is there.
    collateral damage. we’ll be fooling ourselves if we don’t accept the fact that every war causes collateral damage. we’ve failed to put the blame in the correct account. when miscreants will come n live in the middle of civilian population the blame for collateral damage must go to them. when they’ll keep their family members with them the risk is theirs.all these actions amount to using the civilians n family members as HUMAN SHIELD.
    moreover whom will you blame for so many innocent people dying or becoming disabled in suicide or planted bomb attacks in settled areas. this is also collateral damage n no one but taliban n their cohorts are to be blamed for this. for those who think this is happening because of our wrong policies, i’ve a couplet in urdu for them…….
    “mgas ko bagh mein jaane na dejeo
    keh naahaq khoon perwaane ka ho ga”
    (don’t let honey bee go to the garden…. it will result in demise of bug flying around the lamp.


  3. […] the right approach to Pakistan at this time? Pakistani’s certainly don’t think so.  CIA drones have the entire country in an uproar, while Islamabad isn’t taking well to DC’s tacit encouragement of rapidly increasing Indian […]


  4. […] the right approach to Pakistan at this time? Pakistani’s certainly don’t think so.  CIA drones have the entire country in an uproar, while Islamabad isn’t taking well to DC’s tacit encouragement of rapidly increasing Indian […]


  5. […] Read Part 2  – Concessions & Collateral Damage […]


  6. […] Read Part 2  – Concessions & Collateral Damage […]


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