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Questioning The Ethical Legitimacy of Drone Attacks in Pakistan And Afghanistan.
Tuesday, 07 July 2009 04:29
by Brian McAfee

Ongoing Civilian casualties have become an important consideration when looking at and considering the use and legitimacy of drones in South Asia. In a belated admission last month the U.S. had admitted to 26 civilian deaths in a series of drone attacks that took place in May but was not released to the media until over a month later. In the May attacks Afghan officials put the death toll at 140, significantly higher than U.S. claims. In the same strikes the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission put the Civilian deaths at 86.

The count of civilian losses in both Afghanistan and Pakistan has been routinely lower in U.S. estimates compared to the counts by the civilian populations within the two countries. The delays in reporting and denials in the numbers of civilian deaths is a continuation of the same pattern of behavior from last year. Last August a U.S. bombing in western Afghanistan caused the deaths of 90 people, most of them in that instance were children, the U.S. in that case too initially admitted only to killing a small number of civilians adjusting their count later. As what occurred last year this time around in May's drone attack large numbers of women and children were killed.

The military based nature of the U.S. and Coalition Forces engagement in the region perhaps should be shifted towards a more humanitarian based operation with primary focuses being on infrastructure, education and health care development. Primary development of roads, water supply, agricultural assistance, hospitals and schools, with primary military operations being focused on protecting the security of these humanitarian and infrastructure projects should be our primary objective.

The primary road out of poverty, underdevelopment and social injustice is the education of women and girls. The origins of the present day problems with the Taliban and Al Qaeda had their origin in the U.S. sponsored and supported Mujahadeen of the 1980's in which many of the Islamic extremists commited the same kind of attacks on girls schools and civilians as the Taliban and Al Qaeda do today. It was as wrong then as it is now.

Drone or any other attacks that routinely result in civilian casualties must be curtailed or the reasons for the U.S. presence and the purpose for the ongoing war must be, and should be, questioned.

The value and consideration of the civilian population in Afghanistan and Pakistan must never be forgotten or disregarded, humanitarian ventures in schools, particularly the education of girls and the participation of U.S. Military personnel should be lauded and appreciated. A refocus towards and deeper appreciation of the people in and of South Asia is in order and a recognition of our shared humanity with mutual respect and appreciation.

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