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Imran Khan Gets an Early Christmas Present


Yesterday’s Amnesty International report on the high civilian death toll of CIA’s secret drone program, and today’s report in the Washington Post on the Pakistani government’s complicity in that drone program, must be making Imran Khan a very happy man.

The cricketer-turned-politician and leader of opposition party PTI has been the most vocal critic of the drone program, even going so far as to say that terrorism in Pakistan is a direct result of drone attacks and the broader American war on terror. So this week, now that Amnesty International’s report has said that the US is “exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its drone program, including killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes,” the Pakistani right, including Imran Khan, has been reinvigorated in their anti-American rhetoric and insistence on peace talks with the Taliban. Anti-Americanism, already a national pastime in Pakistan, will only get stronger.

Conversely, Bob Woodward and Greg Miller’s report in the Washington Post this morning points to Pakistan’s collusion in the drone strikes, giving Khan the opportunity to beat the government with the same stick. While Pakistan’s complicity has been a poorly kept secret for a while now, the report confirms suspicions with a host of classified CIA documents and cables from Pakistan. The report, released on the day Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is meeting with Obama in Washington, is bound to embarrass Sharif, especially since he has mentioned Pakistan’s anger at drones repeatedly on this trip.

From Khan’s perspective, the Pakistani government is equally responsible for the drone program, and deserves equal condemnation. On the PTI’s Twitter account, criticism of Sharif has already begun. Drones have deeply divided and angered Pakistani society, and Khan seems to be taking full advantage of it.

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  • Mark Michael

    I was listening to NPR on my car radio a day ago (10-23-2013) and they were discussing this Amnesty International report on our drone strikes in the part of Pakistan just over the border from Afghanistan. One of the persons was a Pakistani studying in America from this tribal area next to Afghanistan that was the subject of the drone strikes. (Not sure of the name of the province – if part of the southern area bordering on Iran itself and southern Afghanistan, or further north.) Anyway, this Pakistani said his relatives were happy to see the US drones take out the Al Qaeda operatives, since they brought nothing but misery to them. Those drone strikes never killed any fellow Pakistanis, since the AQ terrorists isolated themselves from the native population. Any deaths were strictly within their compounds. They were always very careful to target just those compounds; they assumed they had ground spotters helping them.

    On the other hand, whether the regular Pakistani military came to clean out the AQ camps, they killed the natives indiscriminately. Many innocent people died at from the bombs of their F-16s, their military tanks and APC vehicles. He reflected the tensions within Pakistan and the different tribal groups. The ISI is a hated group by these native tribes. He challenged the standard Amnesty International storyline, which is just the line of Islamabad.

    Not sure of the province – maybe Baluchistan or one of the further north provinces that do not appreciate rule from Islamabad.

    • USNK2

      A global map from 1848 shows Baluchistan as a nation, south of Afghanistan, and west of Hindoostan.

      Now the Baluchis are split between Iran and Pakistan, where they challenge the Pakistani government for more autonomy and a fairer share of their resources, and overlap with the Pahstuns (mostly Ghilzai) who harbor the Afghan Taliban, around Quetta.

      The Pakistani Pashtun (mostly)Mehsud) province to the north is Waziristan, where Pakistan’s Taliban come from.

      Malala Yousefzai, of the Swat Yousefzai Pashtuns, made it a point to disucss drone strikes during her recent Oval Office visit.

      Imran Khan’s Pashtun lineage is fascinating.

      Apologies to all Pashtuns and Baluchis for over-simplifying.

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