Pakistanis protests U.S. drone strikes

14:16, December 12, 2010      

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Innocent people with sad eyes, emotionless frightened faces and amputated limbs, sitting in a protesting camp at roadside in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, hoped that their protest would stop United States drone strikes.

Sadaullah, 17, was one of the dozens of young, middle and old aged people affected by the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas who came to the capital to record their first ever protest against these attacks on Friday afternoon.

They said they had come here to demand the government of Pakistan and world community to pressurize the United States to stop its brutal attacks which mostly kill innocent people instead of militants.

Every participant in the protest was affected by the attacks directly or indirectly, either with amputated limbs or had lost his dear ones.

Sadaullah, who lost both of his legs in a drone attack in September 2009, told Xinhua that he was having dinner with his family when drone attacked.

"When I got senses, I was in hospital without legs, my whole family was killed, what was my mistake that I had to see these days," said Sadaullah, who was a student of secondary school at the time of attack.

U.S. unmanned planes, reportedly, had killed almost 2,000 civilians in more than 100 strikes in Pakistan since June 2004 which had spread fear in the whole area as neither women nor the elders or children were spared while they have nothing to do with Taliban.

U.S. leaders and responsible people give importance to these operations and consider the pilotless planes the most useful weapon in the war against terrorism against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants allegedly hiding in North Waziristan, Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

But other than U.S. claims about the success of drone strategy, local analysts believed when drones killed civilians their relatives turned to militants to revenge on the NATO forces, Pakistani army and also by hitting common citizens in Pakistan.

Pakistani Taliban usually carry out terrorist attacks in their own country to revenge for drone attacks which have forced common Pakistanis to think that they had paid enough for being the U.S. front line ally.

Data released by the New America Foundation, a U.S.-based human rights group working in Pakistan, showed at least 32 senior al- Qaeda or Afghan Taliban or Pakistani Taliban commanders were killed in the drone strikes but figure of civilians killed in these attacks is unknown.

Protesting people requested the government to form a fund for drone attacks victims as they could not earn their livelihood due to limbs amputation.

Eighty-year old Haji Sahib Din, whose relatives had been killed in the attacks demanded the Pakistani government and army to take action against U.S. drones.

Pakistan's three main political parties, Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaf, Pakistan Muslim league-Q (PML-Q), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and other religious groups participated in the demonstration.

Ajmal Khan Wazir, senior vice president of PML-Q, addressing the procession, declared the current government responsible of these attacks and demanded the authorities to raise the issue at international forum.

General (retired) Hameed Gull, former chief of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), also criticized American policies and supported Taliban in Afghanistan, and said that the NATO forces' war policies had failed in the region.

The tribesmen chanted slogans and displayed banners and placards inscribed with anti-CIA and America slogans.

Karim Khan, a tribal elder from North Waziristan said that he lost his brother, a school teacher who studied for master in English.

"Drones always killed innocent people in homes and vehicles," said Khan, adding that they don't know what kind of explosive was used in drones' rockets that the bodies of people always de-shaped in such a way that no one could recognize them.

He said as his son was not Taliban or militant and was killed by the U.S. drone so he had decided to file a legal case against America in Pakistani courts to seek justice.

Khan, through his lawyer, had sent legal notices to Robert Michael Gates, United States Secretary of Defense, and CIA's Chief of Islamabad station on Nov. 29.

Barrister Mirza Shehzad Akbar, Khan's advocate, told Xinhua that he had served these notices at U.S. embassy in Islamabad and would file a case against them if they do not reply the notices till Dec. 14.

Source: Xinhua(By Jamil Bhatti)
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