So, yes, a candidate talks about drones in detail, with great awareness about how they are counterproductive to United States security concerns. Problem is, the candidate is running for prime minister of Pakistan.
I spent an informative and detailed session with Imran Khan, former cricket star, chairman of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and now high-profile candidate for prime minister in his home country. (Follow my updates in Pakistan on Twitter, Facebook and at WarCosts.com.)
Mr. Khan agreed to the interview for War Costs' Drones Exposed film. The difference between Khan's awareness and perspective of U.S. drone policy and that of major U.S. politicians, including the two U.S. presidential candidates, is stunning, to stay the least.
He has an extensive awareness of the tribal areas' culture, code of honor and respect, and, yes, revenge. He spoke of an absolute necessity in Pakistani tribal culture to honor your family members killed by drones and see that justice is served.
Mr. Khan followed that point by posing a question: Why are there more militants than ever since the U.S. began the drone campaign? He explains that drone strikes have only fueled animosity. That said, he has a practical awareness of the limited capabilities of the mostly illiterate, ill-trained, poverty-stricken Taliban militants in the tribal areas -- that while they can inflict fear into local communities, they have little chance of threatening U.S. security.
The number of innocent people being killed and maimed by drone strikes grows each year, and Khan and his significant following in the tribal areas of Pakistan are very aware of this. He confirms that drone attacks are often based on bribes and bounties to local tribesmen. So while the drone may be "accurate," the intel is often deeply flawed. We see the results in those hundreds of innocent victims.
He kept coming back to the effects of drone strikes on the people. He talked at length about the necessity for the United States to end the attacks, and to reach out to Pakistan and the tribal areas in new ways, free of the old thinking and strategies that have only led to death, despair and anger.
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