News Analysis |
In the eastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan, a US drone strike targeted a training camp of militants who are believed to be Pakistani Taliban, killing more than 20 people. Officials claim that the killed Taliban were to carry out suicide attacks across Pakistan, and that among the killed were two key figures of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan including Fazlullah Khorasani, son of TTP chief Mulla Fazlullah. Reuters quoted Pakistani Taliban sources affirming the strike and the death of more than dozen members of their movement, however, they refuted the part which said about the death of senior leadership.
In October, the scalps of US drone strikes included Jamat ul Ahrar chief Umar Khalid Khorasani and Umar Mansoor, mastermind of APS massacre, inside Afghanistan. It was followed by a drone strike within the tribal areas of Pakistan, killing a deputy leader of TTP, a strike which was said to be launched without the Predator drone itself crossing the Pakistani airspace.
The strategy is multifaceted as the focus is not just the measure to win this war but to open certain channels which would lead the way in building trust between Pakistan and USA.
Since the President of The United States Donald Trump took oval office, the frequency of drone strikes has increased exponentially both in the war zones like Syria and Afghanistan to non-battlefield settings such as Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, no. of causalities from drone strikes in one year presidency of President Trump have been more than that of President Obama’s two complete tenures.
Specifically, in Afghanistan, where instead of coalition forces the air strikes are now carried out by US Air Force only, a total of 75 drone strikes were reported in 2017. As a result of these strikes 102-165 people were killed which included 26 non-combatants as well. In Pakistan, where once on average, the drone used to strike twice a week during the first tenure of President Obama, the number was reduced to 3 strikes in 2016.
Due to strong anti-drone campaign by Human Right organization, Obama administration made the checks which authorized a drone strike more strict. A part of which was to transfer the jurisdiction of making the final call and pulling the trigger from CIA to US military command. But, in 2017, the number increased to 5 drone strikes inside Pakistan killing 15-22 people, among which 3 are believed to be civilians. And just in the first 3 months of 2018, 3 drone strikes have been reported so far inside Pakistan’s territory which hint the aggressive nature of US drone policy in the future.
Drones have been used more as a policy driving tool of sitting US administration rather purely as an impactful mean in the war against terror. For instance, President Obama brought Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG) or commonly known as The Drone Playbook, which included a provision that no strike will be authorized unless analysts determine that there is a near-certainty that no civilians will be harmed.
The war in Afghanistan has entered into its 17th year with no definite end in sight. It is certainly the best available way to eliminate the enemies, putting up a fight from a safe distance without pushing US military personnel in harm’s way.
But at his first visit to CIA headquarters, President Trump seemed impressed by this technology and damage it inflicts without the risk of collateral damage. Ultimately the CIA got more autonomy to carry out drone strikes in battle zones like Syria, which during the Obama’s presidency would have taken much time and consideration. As evident from the statistics, use of Predators is the part of President Trump’s strategy to help achieve the political and military objectives in battle and non-battle zones.
Apart from violating the sovereignty of countries, which is a serious intrusion and crime in its own, drones have been the known cause of deliberate/undeliberate civilian loss of lives. Those in favor of drone strikes in United States argue that the precision and damage control offered by the drone strikes is far more than the bombing by jets, but civilian casualties still remain a matter of fact. This is where it becomes counterproductive at times.
Even with just one civilian causality, the militants get the leverage to recruit more young people to avenge the blood of these innocents. These strikes, arguably, may have slowed down the insurgency but they certainly have not been able to eradicate it all together. Talking particularly in the context of President Trump’s new Afghanistan Policy, the no. of strikes can be expected to increase exponentially irrespective of the backlash it might face from Human right organizations and people around the world.
A part of which was to transfer the jurisdiction of making the final call and pulling the trigger from CIA to US military command. But, in 2017, the number increased to 5 drone strikes inside Pakistan killing 15-22 people, among which 3 are believed to be civilians.
The war in Afghanistan has entered into its 17th year with no definite end in sight. It is certainly the best available way to eliminate the enemies, putting up a fight from a safe distance without pushing US military personnel in harm’s way. The strategy is multifaceted as the focus is not just the measure to win this war but to open certain channels which would lead the way in building trust between Pakistan and USA.
The ultimate and sustainable resort to Afghanistan’s peaceful future rests in the cooperation and trust of Afghanistan, Pakistan and United States. Rescue of Canadian-American couple during an operation by Pakistan Army paved the way, a development hailed by President Trump himself and since then, multi-level delegations of his administration and US Congress have visited Islamabad and Kabul to rebuild the deficient trust. It is in the best interest of all the stake holders that lasting peace must be brought inside Afghanistan and all necessary means for this purpose are utilized.