A drone on tarmac
Gen. Pervez Musharraf was still ruling this country when some whispers in the news came about a mysterious object that was downed by the tribals or as some said by the Taliban in FATA, but the Pakistani military didn’t comment on the incident either knowingly or unknowingly, as the COAS in those days was still the same Gen Pervaiz Musharraf who had almost issued a blank cheque to the then president George W. Bush with an understanding that the Americans could do anything in this country either covertly or even overtly, provided his dictatorship is not touched. No wonder then that the US who champions the cause of democracy and human values termed Musharraf’s emergency rule in Pakistan, as well as the brute dismissal of C. J. Iftikhar Chaudhary as Pakistan’s internal matter.
ITS THE KILLER MACHINES MAN, DOING THE JOB IN PAKISTAN
by Nayyar Hashmey
Ex dictator, President Gen Pervaiz Musharraf was still ruling the roost in this land of the pure, when a news flashed in the media about some strange object that had been shot by the Taliban or common tribal’s in the FATA region of Pakistan. The fact whether this strange object crashed on its own (due to some technical reason) or was indeed shot down by the locals in the Pakistan’s tribal lands could not be established. One could see however the picture of scrap which could hardly hint on what this strange object or device could be.
Immediately after this news, there were a few whispers in the media about this mysterious object but the Pakistani military didn’t comment on the incident either knowingly or unknowingly, as the COAS in those days was still the same Gen Pervaiz Musharraf who had almost issued a blank cheque to the then president George W. Bush with an understanding that the Americans could do anything to this country either covertly or even overtly provided his dictatorial regime is not touched. No wonder then that the US who champions the cause of democracy and human values termed then the emergency rule in Pakistan, as well as the brute dismissal of C. J. Iftikhar Chaudhary as Pakistan’s internal matter.
The shooting or the crash of that strange object was perhaps the first ever drone attack into Pakistan.
After the US had tested its predator drones in Afghanistan, the incident in FATA was a hint to the US to modify its tactics as well as the technology to perfect its drone raids into Pakistan.
In comes Zardari (catapulted into the presidency courtesy the NRO and subsequent killing of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto). Vis-à-vis Musharraf, our President and his cabinet members started making funny statements. The president and the prime minister said the drone attacks were an attack on country’s sovereignty but excepting lip service, behind the scene they continued with the same understanding Musharraf had with Americans i.e. go on condemning these drone attacks but do nothing to stop them.
Shortly after the cabinet under Prime Minister Gilani was sworn in, our defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar had the wisdom of declaring Musharraf as a great asset to Pakistan. He, when asked to comment on the second drone attack in FATA (when a dozen of innocent civilians were also killed), callously remarked ‘these people in FATA must have done something that they are coming under drone attacks’ forgetting the very fact that each attack may or may not kill the al-Qaeda fugitives, but it does kill a dozen of innocent civilians, the children, the women and the old who have nothing to do with the Taliban or al-Qaeda or some other militant outfit.
Then in his second statement, the worthy minister of defence came with another pearl of wisdom, when he said ‘these drones fly at such a height that we don’t have any means to hit them’. Interestingly our Air Chief says ‘if we are ordered to shoot on these drones, we can do that but the decision to shoot or not to shoot lies with the president. We will only obey the orders as and when they are given to us’.
In this scenario, lot of questions creep into mind like:-
- What this drone is at all about
- How does it function
- What does it cost
- The cost benefit ratio of a drone operation vis-à-vis a jetfighter’s
- What’s a reaper and the predator
- How high can the drones fly
- What do the cameras, the bombs and the missiles on a drone do
- What can we do to stop these raids.
Not only are these but so many other questions which like any other Pakistani, come into my mind as well. Coincidentally I received a very informative and authentic piece of composition from my friend Tom Engelheart.
[Tom runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. Tom is also the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing.. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley].
Having read this sci-fic type real life essay on these killer machines, I thought it best to share with you this article, so I wrote to him if he allows us to publish same on pages of this blog. With return of post, came a very sweet reply from Tom “In disseminating truth wherever, whenever, and in whatsoever manner we can, we should do our best” and hence we are putting up this piece on WOP site. So dear readers! please wait till I upload the post from Tom. This will be followed by some more posts on these killer drones.