Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Adnan, a local tribesman living in Waziristan, text a message to his brother living in Islamabad from his cell phone, “Bro, I cannot sleep due the noise of Drone in the air”. It was almost mid night; people of the area usually go the bed earlier, around 9 pm but in his house no one could sleep due to the noise of the Drone and the fear of the strike!
Drone, controlled by CIA, US intelligence agency, is chasing the militants in the Federally Tribal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. The role of State of Pakistan in relation to Drone attacks, presents a question mark for the people living in FATA. Some of the people believe that Pakistan is the co-partner with US in these attacks while some believe that the State is as helpless as they are. In both cases there is no safety and protection provided by the state for local tribesmen living in FATA.
It is not only the stance and exposition of the state that causes malaise among the people of FATA rather the society is also divided on the point of Drone attacks utility to curb the militancy from the area. Some of the people believe that Drone attacks must be continued while the rest of them are condemning any such attacks. Those who favour drone attacks, argue that it is the only sources of targeting the militants and bringing peace to FATA. Once a tribesman said pointing his finger to the air “thank you Drone, you are the only thing Taliban afraid of”. The other argument they have for their support of drone is that the people of FATA cannot afford military operations because operations cause displacements.
The other school of thought who believes that drone must stop immediately they have their own story to tell. They believe in the anthropological effects of the Drone attacks. They believe that peace does not mean the inter wars or inter conflicts period while peace mean both internal and external peace for human being. The anthropological as well as sociological impacts of Drone attacks inculcated and provoked a militant’s attitude among individuals and society. An elder of Uthmanzai Wazir tribe, in North Waziristan Agency, told a journalist, “Drone left our Bazaar terrorize, vacant our masques, eliminate our Hujra (community center), ineffective Jarga (council of elders) and decrease the number of participants in the funeral ceremony”. We all know very much that tribal life is incomplete without the above mentioned social elements degeneration of those is lamented by tribal elder.
The second school often argues that Drone attacks are the basic source of new recruitment to militant groups based in FATA. According TTP leadership Drone gave them more recruitments than that of their campaign. In this case Drone killing the existing militants but supporting to recruit more. In the last few months the number of Drone attacks increased while the security situation became very tense in both South and North Waziristan where Taliban banned polio campaign in FATA. They also forced the authorities to stop many development projects by challenging the writ of the government. Militant kidnapped many government officials during the months frequency of drone attacks was rising. These incidences in Waziristan show the strength and power of militants due to which they took such bold decisions like ban on polio etc. This makes the situation complex to understand who gets what from these Drone attacks. In any case the common man is being severely affected.
Political analysts gauge that majority of the people of FATA want an end to Drone attacks. They argue that challenging the hold of religious parties in FATA is almost impossible but Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), did it. Imran Khan became very popular among the people of FATA in general but in South and North Waziristan, he is considered as a savior. There is an evident reason behind people’s rising support for him as well for PTI, i.e. His clear stance on Drone attacks. He publically expressed that Drone attacks must be stopped at any cost immediately.
Even Awami National Party (ANP) has to shift its policy and stance on Drone attacks. Previously, it was supporting Drone attacks but now it is condemning it.
Once I was taking an interview of Mualana Tajin, son of late Mualan Noor Mohammad, in his Mosque’s Hujra and got a chance to have all the Shura members of Ulamahs (religious scholars). They clearly stated that US was their enemy while Taliban were their guards. I was shocked to listen that they considering Taliban as their guards, but later on I got the context in which they were talking; it was beause of the Drone attacks in the area conducted by CIA.
It is not only the religious elites who are supporting Taliban but Taliban also have popular support, particularly in this case. A man can be killed by his father or brother or any other kinsman but if someone else kills the person, the same brother or kinsman will take his murderer’s life in revenge. It is the cultural of tribal society which has provided moral support for the Taliban in FATA.
This is a debate between the two divergent views regarding Drone attacks in FATA but looking into the individual’s life in FATA, gives a terrible perspective which is full of miseries. Common life can be better explained in a text message sent by one of a young university graduate (Adnan) from Waziristan in the mid night. “It is awful to be effected by a Drone but is horrific if you are unable to protest against it”, said by La’l Badshah, a tribal elder in South Waziristan. In the same way Mr Adnan do what he could, that is, sending message to his own brother in Islamabad.
Drone must be stopped to bring and sustain a healthy life in FATA but the Taliban must also be eliminated from the tribal life so that the people would not experience military operation which causes masses’ displacement. They must be free from any threat so that they can compete with the world in every field of life. They, like other citizens of the country, must be given rights of living a normal life. Unfortunately, at present the people of FATA are in complete state of fear and insecurity and this state of insecurity is not allowing them to think for their tomorrow.
The writer is a research fellow at Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Politics and International Relation at International Islamic University Islamabad and works as a Senior Research Analyst at FATA Research Center and can be reached by firstname.lastname@example.org
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