Dr Muhammad Khan
THE first ever drone attack in Balochistan, Killing Amir of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour is being viewed as crossing of Pakistani red lines by United States. There have been approximately 396 US drone attacks in Pakistan killing over 3200 people mostly restricted to FATA. Until 2013, FATA has been a troubled area and hub of foreign militants including Al-Qaeda, therefore, drone attacks in that area were not protested much. Moreover, supposedly there has been tacit approval of the Government of Pakistan for the drone attacks in FATA till 2013.
Nevertheless, since 2014, there have been drastic reduction in the frequency of the drone attacks in Pakistan. The US drone attack in Nushki, Balochistan is being viewed very seriously. Apart from the condemnation by the Foreign Office of Pakistan the U.S Ambassador was called in the FO and protested over the violation of the Pakistani sovereignty. The people of Pakistan and Prime Minister also showed their concern over this violation. Pakistani Interior Minister also condemned the attack and warned US of the consequences.
The most significant aspect of the post attack scenario was meeting between the US Ambassador David Hale and Pakistani Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif in GHQ, Rawalpindi. General Raheel clearly told the US Ambassador that, Pakistan and Pakistan Army has taken this US act very seriously. Indeed, it is a blatant violation of Pakistani sovereignty and its territorial integrity. In the meeting the Army Chief told the Ambassador that apart from the violation of Pakistani sovereignty, the drone attack was detrimental to Pak-US ties and regional stability. It has indeed harmed the peace process between Afghan Government and the Taliban. Indeed, Mullah Mansour was the advocate of the peace process and the Murree round of reconciliation was held under his leadership and after his consent.
The track record of Mullah Mansour shows that, he was in favour of the peace process and after Mullah Omar, the former head of Afghan Taliban, it was his blessing that Taliban showed some flexibility towards reconciliation process. It was despite the fact that, Taliban ranks had some reservations over the talks and particularly about the attitude of the Afghan Government. The Taliban wanted their Movement should not be dubbed as the Terrorist organization and that, their leaders and members should be released from the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.
The new Amir of Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada has however, decided not to go for the peace talks with the Afghan Government. It is worth mentioning that, it was Afghan Government and its spying network NDS that have sabotaged the peace process, which Pakistan facilitated. As per analysis of the experts on Afghanistan, the Afghan President Mr Ashraf Gahni has lost his status and seems to be a hostage at the hands of NDS and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Indeed, NDS is totally being dictated and directed by Indian spying network, RAW. Since Pakistan was facilitating the Afghan peace process, therefore, it was unacceptable for India and its strategic partner United States.
As far as the legal position on the issue of drone attacks is concerned, these attacks are against the International Law and Human Rights Declaration-1948. The United Nations Terrorism & Human Rights envoy Ben Emmerson, after three days visits of Pakistan in 2013 declared that, “US drone strikes in Pakistan are a violation of international law. The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear: It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Following the Statement of Interior Minister, the Army Chief has given a very clear message to US over the drone attack in Balochistan. Time has come Prime Minister and political leadership of Pakistan must take a clear stand and stop getting dictation from US. Afghanistan Government must be told to stop exporting the Indian trained terrorists onto Pakistan and stop creating disturbances in Pakistan.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.