Tag Archives | Pakistan

Pakistan’s Likely Prime Minister Vows To Shoot Down U.S. Drones

imran khan

Drone wars to come? PolicyMic reports:

In the lead up to Pakistan’s general election on May 11, former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan has again vowed to shoot down American drones if elected. Given that most polls show Khan ahead of Nawaz Sharif (previously thought to be the favorite), there is a very real chance that Khan will become Prime Minister.

Drone strikes have increased dramatically under President Obama, and while Pakistan has always been publicly opposed to attacks conducted by the CIA, the possibility of a prime minister who has promised to shoot down the drones could make things very awkward for the U.S.

Khan has long been a fierce critic of the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, leading anti-drone protests and even being removed from a plane and detained by U.S. immigration officials on a trip to New York last year. According to Khan, he was “interrogated on [his] views on drones” while he was detained.

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Pakistanis are Crazy … Like a Fox

image jul3sg33

What do people in Pakistan know that the rest of the world doesn’t? Every Pakistani man, woman and child is a paranoid nutcase, according to the picture painted by a recent New York Times article:

According to many Pakistanis, the C.I.A. used a mysterious technology to cause the devastating floods that affected 20 million people in 2010. Washington had the teenage champion for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai, shot as part of a campaign to demonize the Pakistani Taliban and win public support for American drone strikes against them. The terrorists who strike Pakistani targets are non-Muslim “foreign agents.” Osama bin Laden was an American operative.

However, in an article-ending twist, the Times matter-of-factly notes that conspiracy theories in Pakistan “persist because many turn out to be true.”

 Keep reading.

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At Least We’re Not Measles: Rationalizing Drone Attacks Hits New Low

Thales Watchkeeper WK450 UAV

The inimitable Matt Taibbi takes on the drones issue for Rolling Stone:

Read an absolutely amazing article today. Entitled “Droning on about Drones,” it was published in the online version of Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper, and written by one Michael Kugelman, identified as the Senior Program Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

In this piece, the author’s thesis is that all this fuss about America’s drone policy is overdone and perhaps a little hysterical. Yes, he admits, there are some figures that suggest that as many as 900 civilians have been killed in drone strikes between 2004 and 2013. But, he notes, that only averages out to about 100 civilians a year. Apparently, we need to put that number in perspective:

Now let’s consider some very different types of statistics.

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Amusement Park Coming to Abbottabad, Last Home of Osama Bin Laden

Exactly why someone in Pakistan decided that the town where Osama bin Laden (supposedly) met his end at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals would be a good place for an amusement park is unfortunately not revealed in this story from Reuters:

Pakistan plans to build a $30 million amusement park and outdoor activity centre on the edge of the northwestern town of Abbottabad, where U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden, an official said on Monday.

The private venture in the foothills of the Himalayas will include a zoo, water sports, a mini-golf course, rock climbing and paragliding, said Jamaluddin Khan, the deputy provincial minister for tourism.

“The project will take five years to complete,” he told Reuters.

U.S. Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda leader in 2011 in a secret raid that humiliated Pakistan’s military – which has an academy nearby – and heavily strained ties between strategic allies Washington and Islamabad…

[continues at Reuters]

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Seven Countries Have Death Penalty For Atheism

Stedman-hangingDon’t tell anyone you’re an atheist if you live in Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Sudan! Story via Reuters:

Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday.

The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that “unbelievers” in Islamic countries face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.

The report, “Freedom of Thought 2012″, said “there are laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry.”

Other laws “obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.”…

[continues at Reuters]

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Drones Are Not A Security Solution

Alternet supremo Don Hazen reports on activist filmmaker extraordinaire Robert Greenwald’s latest campaign, at Salon:

Robert Greenwald, head of the progressive internet video and  documentary film company, Brave New Films, recently traveled to Pakistan, supported financially by hundreds of BNF donors,  to witness firsthand the stories of families who have had innocent loved ones killed by U.S. drone attacks.  Greenwald is challenging both the morality and the factual effectiveness of the U.S drone program as we learn more about the failures and questionable policies.  The  U.S. claims that drone missiles are aimed at  potential terrorists but because the ground rules of who can be targeted is both vague and has  been loosened,  the number of innocents being killed has risen sharply. Furthermore, the information that is used to target people, appears to be the result of a system of bribery at the local level, which is of questionable reliability.

It wasn’t until April 2012 that John Brennan, White House counter-terrorism adviser admitted for the first time publicly, that our government has been using drones in Pakistan, and later Yemen, to attempt to  kill those  they consider as potential terrorists.

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Hit Pakistani Pop Song About Deadly Drone Strikes

Dance songs reflecting the new reality. The Guardian provides context:
In the long history of love songs the attention of a beautiful woman has been compared to many things – but perhaps only in Pakistan's tribal belt would it be likened to the deadly missile strike of a remotely controlled US drone. [It's] a sign of how the routine hunting down and killing of militants by unmanned CIA planes has leached into the popular imagination. The repeated chorus: "My gaze is as fatal as a drone attack". The hit for singer Sitara Younis follows her success last year with another love ballad, which warns a besotted man to keep his distance: "Don't chase me, I'm an illusion, a suicide bomb." Maas Khan Wesal, a Pashtu music veteran who wrote the accompanying music, said the song had proved popular because it reflected the lives of Pashtu speakers on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
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