US Drone strikes Continue in Pakistan despite PM Nawaz Sharif’s UN Protest (Serle)

Jack Serle writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

The CIA launched four attacks [on Pakistan in September] – the second most attacks in one month so far this year. At least 16 people were killed in these attacks – none of them reportedly a civilian. This was the ninth consecutive month without a confirmed civilian casualty.

Six killed in the first strike of the month on September 6 were named (Ob322). Among them was Mullah Sangeen Zadran – an alleged commander in the Haqqani Network and reportedly the Afghan Taliban’s ‘shadow governor’ in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Analyst Saifullah Mahsud said the US had ‘scored really big’ by killing Zadran. Though he was second-in-command to Haqqani patriarch Sirajuddin Haqqani, he ‘was running the show, practically’.

The final two strikes came less than 24 hours apart. The first, on September 29, hit two days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the UN General Assembly drone strikes violate his country’s borders. He added that the civilian casualties from the strikes are ‘detrimental to our resolve and efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism from Pakistan’.

The leading political parties demonstrated that resolve on September 9 by endorsing Sharif’s plan to start peace talks with the Pakistan Taliban, the TTP. But a series of bloody attacks in the following weeks may threaten that unanimity. A week after the announcement Major General Sanaullah Khan, Pakistan Army commander in Swat, was killed by a roadside bomb. The TTP claimed responsibility.

On September 22 an horrific suicide bombing killed more than 80 people. They were worshiping in a church in Peshawar when two bombers detonated inside the building. An armed group, Jundallah, claimed the attack as revenge for US drone strikes. The TTP, an alliance of armed groups, disowned the attack three days later. It declared Jundallah was not a member group.

The church attack was a significant blow to Sharif’s hopes for talks with the Taliban. According to US news wire McClatchy, Sharif said: ‘We had proposed peace talks with the Taliban in good faith but . . . because of this attack, the government is unable to move forward with what it planned and envisaged.’

On September 27 an Ansarul Mujahideen attack killed as many as 20 people on a bus in Peshawar. The group emerged earlier this year with the stated aim of avenging civilians killed in drone strikes, The News reported. And Peshawar was hit for a third time on September 29 when a TTP car bomb detonated in one of the city’s markets. The blast killed as many as 42 men women and children, 17 reportedly from one family.

Pakistan Summary:

Total CIA strikes in September: 4
Total killed in strikes in September: 16-24, of whom 0 were reportedly civilians

Mirrored from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

13 Responses

  1. President Obama’s drone war is an exercise in futility. I was a medical corpsman in Vietnam, and the US military lost the hearts and minds of Vietnamese civilians with indiscriminate air strikes and artillery barrages just as these drone attacks are losing the hearts and minds of the Muslim civilians.

    All we are doing is helping the Taliban recruit more civilians to their cause and destabilizing the country even more than is is already. It just doesn’t even work as a military tactic.

    And I frankly doubt that statistic at the end of the post that those 16 – 24 KIAs killed were all Taliban insurgents. And where are the statistics for the WIAs? There are WIAs in any kind of air strike. It just doesn’t gel given what I saw as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. Sounds rather fishy to me.

  2. Clearly, the U.S. has crossed a threshold and is now answerable to no one.
    That is dangerous and profoundly tragic, for freedom and a meaningful form of government, that alleges to embrace democracy and its values as a nation of laws.

  3. It’s a shame the media, both mainstream and independent did not pick up on Mamnoon Hussain speech at the United Nations. Pakistan’s international voice is being silenced.

    These drones strikes have done nothing more that create more terrorists that what they have killed and the irony is, they are seeking peace with the Taliban, the same people the keep killing. A peace treaty, no matter how bad the enemy is, is the only solution. The region needs development, not drone strikes.

    Ironically like Mamnoon Hussain, President Jammeh from Gambia also made a plea at the UN and an open letter. The State Department laughed of his accusations as “pure insanity” and the media reporting on his “anti-homosexuality” and a few misinterpreted lines of his open letter. After watching and reading it myself with an open mind, I saw a very insightful warning of what is becoming a dangerous US exceptionalism. The media and the State Department failed to pick on the most important line “Our relationship with the West deteriorated when we refused to accept royalties of 5% for our petroleum resources and less than 3% for our mineral resources.” It seem’s to be a recurring theme, in which the US can do anything that threatens it’s “national interest,” no matter how many laws they break, or countries they destabilize. Until the UN, or another Western state speaks out and condemns these actions, US exceptionalism and their drone policy will inevitably continue.

  4. This is indeed one of the key situations which will determine the future evolution of the nation-state power system, and whether the Hegemon can continue to have its way (though our American eagle is looking pretty henpecked lately, more by by internal forces than the finger-waggings of ostensible allies), or whether smaller powers can effectively work to counter the Hegemon.

    So far in the story of humanity, power has always won over attempts at international law (understood or defined), and popular concepts of morality. Can this ever change? With all the climate change news that Professor Cole is teaching us about, does the sclerosis of the international relations situation (and the internal sclerosis of too many nations, again specifically including the USA) mean that we are on a slow path to species suicide because our rulers are too rigid to change as the oceans die and agricultural and other geo-economic systems fail?

  5. Poor Pakistan, poor Libya. Both complain the US violates their sovereignty with drones and kidnapping of their citizens, but that’s only for domestic consumption to appease their people. With a wink and a nod, their spokespeople (I can’t say “governments) whisper to Obama, “Go ahead, violate it.”

  6. In terms of warfighting, my expertise is limited to ground combat at the tactical level.
    So I’m just guessign here.

    But it seems to me that the Pakistani Air Force has all they need to shoot down every single drone the US flies into Pakistani airspace from Afghanistan.
    The PAF knows where the drones launch from (Jalalabad.)
    They know how high and how fast they fly.
    They have radar capable of tracking them.
    They have F-16’s and air-to-air missiles that can knock them down.

    What’s more, the Pakistani people know all this.
    Clearly, if PM Sharif wanted the drone strikes to stop, he could make that happen. If not through negotiations and diplomacy, then through kinetic action.
    Heck, based on the Abbotabad precedent, he could even justify a strike on the US base at Jalalabad – Fenty, I think it’s called – where the drones live and play, when not in the air.

    more to this than just what the press releases say.

  7. “On September 22 an horrific suicide bombing killed more than 80 people. They were worshiping in a church in Peshawar when two bombers detonated inside the building. An armed group, Jundallah, claimed the attack as revenge for US drone strikes.”

    Two points on the above-cited attack on Pakistani Christians.

    A. Although Jundallah claimed the attack was revenge for US drone strikes, Christians have been under attack by Islamic militants in Pakistan and Egypt regardless of drone strikes. The attack might well have occurred in any case, and the drone strikes were simply used as an excuse.

    B. But let’s assume Jundallah did launch the church carnage as revenge for US drone attacks. What kind of twisted mind would kill one’s own people because of drone strikes launched by outsiders (the US) who have nothing to do with the Pakistani Christians killed by the Islamist militants? Such twisted logic lends even more credence to the likelihood that Jundallah just wanted to kill Christians, and the drone strikes were used a pretext.

    • To add, there were past militant terrorist (bombings, grenades and firing) attacks (ignoring systematic discrimination and violent hate mobs, also on the rise) on Pakistani Christians (and other Pakistanis) which all pre-date drones (2005), though did rise after the Afghan invasion, but even before the invasion, Christians were still easy targets for whatever hateful grievance, such as in early 2001.

      link to

      Pakistan suffers from local and foreign religio-political Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Ahle-hadith/Sunni extremist militancy, most of it of our own making for geo-political goals over Afghanistan and India. So these demented excuses do not fly, but unfortunately are regurgitated by denialist or conspiratorial right-wing religious nationalist Pakistanis who are quite apologetic of Sunni Islamists.

      Jundullah earlier committed massacres of Shia bus passengers in Gilgit-Baltistan. The sectarian violence by Sunni militants is decades old and pre-dates drones – so drones are not their primary shtick, nor did they mention it in that attack. Jundullah also targeted the foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan. The latter operation a joint venture coordinated with TTP who happily took credit. While there is an embedded link to an article skeptical of TTP’s denial, I think it’s important to highlight their association in text exposing their dishonesty. What also should be noted is that TTP condoned the attack outright on the church despite denying its involvement. There should be no delusion…all these extremist militant groups are inter-linked one way or another, despite whatever factional rivalry, and have myriad of excuses for their twisted violence with drones just being a newer charged motivator.

      Also note Ansar-ul-Mujahideen also had earlier committed an anti-Shia sectarian massacre up north claiming revenge for Syria before the Peshawar blast. Again, anti-Shia sectarian extremism and terrorism pre-dates the Syrian conflict as well, besides the Afghan war. Drones are just another insane excuse.

  8. This report does an excellent job explaining the nature of the threat to Pakistani civilians.

    More must be done to prevent such wanton slaughter of innocent civilians.

  9. Interesting.

    The stories linked to in this post report 0 civilians killed by US drone strikes, and approximately 150 killed by Pakistani jihadists.

    Yet most of the comments the thread are devoted to bemoaning the evil of using force against Pakistani jihadists.

  10. Since the U.S. defines an enemy as any military-age male or even any group of people, should we be surprised that there are no civilians? The real question is how long will the Great Satan be able to buy the silence of so many of the world’s leaders!

    • The figures cited, Irwin, do not come from the US government, but from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which relies upon local accounts and the local media.

      But I suppose they’re spinning for the Great Satan, too.

      • The question remains as to who is a ‘civilian’ and who is a ‘legitimate’ target. Sorry, Joe, but I take Malala’s word over yours on the impact of these assasinations.

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