Friday Aug 03, 201203:47 PM GMT
Top diplomat: ‘US drone strikes undermine Pakistani democracy’
Fri Aug 3, 2012 3:45PM
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One of Islamabad’s most senior diplomats has told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that ongoing CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas are weakening democracy, and risk pushing people towards extremist groups.

 

He also claims that some factions of the U.S. government still prefer to work with “just one man” rather than a democratically-elected government, and accuses the U.S. of “talking in miles” when it comes to democracy but of “moving in inches.”

 

As High Commissioner to London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan is one of Pakistan’s top ambassadors. Now four years into his second stint in the post, he is no stranger to controversy. In an extended interview with the Bureau, Ambassador Hasan argues that U.S. drone strikes risk significantly weakening Pakistan’s democratic institutions:

 

“What has been the whole outcome of these drone attacks is, that you have rather directly or indirectly contributed to destabilizing or undermining the democratic government. Because people really make fun of the democratic government - when you pass a resolution against drone attacks in the parliament, and nothing happens. The Americans don’t listen to you, and they continue to violate your territory.”

 

The army too risks being seen as impotent, he warns the United States.

 

“Please don’t embarrass us by violating our territory because people question why the hell we have such a huge standing army, where we spend so much on our national defense budget, when we can’t defend ourselves?”

 

On Friday Sherry Rehman, Islamabad’s ambassador to the United States, said that “We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that.” The heads of Pakistan’s army and ISI spy service are also lobbying Washington to allow Pakistani forces to carry out any actual strikes against terrorists based on U.S. intelligence.

 

The reason, according to Ambassador Hasan, is that anti-U.S. sentiment is reaching dangerously high levels in Pakistan because of the drones:

 

“Even those who were supporting us in the border areas have now become our enemies. They say that we are partners in these crimes against the people. So they hate us as well. They hate the Americans more. If you look at the Pakistan-U.S. relationship, we have received a lot of money from the Americans, and yet they’re the most hated country in Pakistan among the people. By and large you will hardly find anybody who will say a word in support for the United States, because of these drone attacks.”

 

Mr Hasan was also scathing about what he sees as the U.S.’s weak commitment towards democracy in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also implies there are those in the U.S. government who would still prefer to be dealing with a dictator. thebureauinvestigates.com

 

FACTS & FIGURES

 

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Washington Post

 

Drone operations have become a hallmark of the Obama administration's "counterterrorism campaign." He ordered the first drone strike of his presidency just 72 hours after he took office.

 

The United Nations has identified the U.S. as the world's number one user of "targeted killings" largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. CNN

 

Human rights activists have also condemned drone strikes for the high number of civilian casualties. The Obama administration claims drones are important in taking out al-Qaeda-linked militants. Express Tribune

 

U.S. assassination drone strikes have killed as many as 2,800 civilians in northwestern Pakistan over the past seven years, according to Shahzad Akbar, Pakistani attorney and director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights -- an organization that has investigated the U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.

 

SAR/HJ

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