The International Tribune ran an interesting story lately entitled “Are drones the sticking point?”. @myraemacdonald alerted me to the article on Twitter and helped me understand that Pakistan’s internal media and newspapers were debating the efficacy of drones and their use in comparison to Pakistan military intervention into the tribal areas. For those familiar with my arguments on drones (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7), this has been one of my central points for the past two years. If one is against drones, then one must be for military intervention or arming of tribal militias.
In my opinion, I believe most local populations would prefer none of the three. But assuming some action must be taken against al Qaeda, I believe local populations would choose drones over the other two as they are the least invasive and least casualty producing. The collateral damage of drones doesn’t even come close to that of military intervention and arming of militias. Again I return to my post from July, “No Drones, No Detention, No Intervention”, where I ask the U.S. media if it’s not drones, then what options should we pursue? I’m surprised that Pakistan may actually be having a more sensible debate on drones than we are in the U.S. If anyone is an Urdu speaker that can track down and provide analysis of the Urdu language debate on this topic, please let me know what is being said in Pakistan. I’d definitely be interested to hear their take on why they are for or against drones and if they are against, what options they provide for going after al Qaeda, the Taliban or any other militant group for that matter. This is an important question as our U.S. media simultaneously calls for justice over the killing of a U.S. Ambassador in Libya while also shouting the woes of U.S. drone use – ridiculous.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Pakistan is ‘linguistically’ divided over drones. But there is a rare glimpse of realist commentary in some Urdu writings. An article in a major Urdu-language newspaper on August 28 asked whether it was wise on the part of the army to invade North Waziristan, while earlier operations in Swat, Bajaur and Orakzai had produced mixed results. Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad were not safe as a result of these inconclusive operations. The fact was that the Taliban and al Qaeda were not hurt by the army but by the drones, which took a heavy toll on them. The fact was also that al Qaeda’s commanders were killed by drones and Taliban leaders such as Baitullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain fell to drones.