16 October 2012News

There's more and more information and protest about military drones.

While campaigning against drone strikes reached new heights this autumn, including the Imran Khan convoy in Pakistan, the last two months were dominated by two drone-related reports.

The British government has spent or committed £2bn towards developing and deploying pilotless military drones, and it plans to spend at least another £2bn on developing and deploying an armed drone called 'Scavenger',…

1 September 2011News

160 children killed in Pakistan

Drones may be “the perfect weapons for a war weary nation on a tight budget” as one journalist wrote recently, but reported civilian casualties from drone strikes continue to rise. For the first time the British ministry of defence (MoD) has admitted that one of its drone strikes killed Afghan civilians in March 2011. The deaths of the unnamed Afghans was revealed by an anonymous correspondent from the UK’s permanent joint headquarters (PJHQ) at RAF Northwood in reply to one of my Freedom of…

1 September 2011Feature

Kathy Kelly on courtyard life and courtyard death in Pakistan and Afghanistan

It’s a bit odd to me that with my sense of geographical direction I’m ever regarded as a leader to guide groups in foreign travel. I’m recalling a steaming hot night in Lahore, Pakistan, when Josh Brollier and I, having enjoyed a lengthy dinner with Lahore University students, needed to head back to the guest lodgings graciously provided us by a headmaster of the Garrison School for Boys.

We had boarded a rickshaw, but the driver had soon become terribly lost and with my spotty sense…

1 June 2011News

On 23 April, thousands of Pakistanis, “led” by ex-cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan blocked the Khyber pass, the route for 70% of supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The sit-down protest, which closed the route for two days, was against US drone strikes in north-west Pakistan, and was organised by Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf party, with the support of other opposition and Islamist groups as well as tribal elders. It came a day after two drones were reported to have killed 25 people, including women and children in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Khan has demanded that drone strikes end by June, threatening a permanent closure of the Khyber pass and…

1 June 2011Feature

Questions around the killing of bin Laden.

The killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in Abottabad, Pakistan, on 1 May, brought an end to an extraordinary life, and a humiliating search by the US. It did not bring an end, however, to the all-pervasive western propaganda surrounding the al-Qa’eda phenomenon. There were immediate questions about the legality of the US attack on bin Laden’s compound on 1 May but there are also larger and more important questions.


Concern about the raid by US special…

1 July 2010Feature

The US group Voices for Creative Non-Violence report on civil unrest and a militarised society in Pakistan

June 18, 2010
“The military is the muscle that protects the ruling elite from the wrath of the people,” says Pakistani political analyst Dr. Mubashir Hassan. “Right now, people are out on the street, blocking roads, attacking railway stations, etc. If you read the papers, it seems as though a general uprising has started all over Pakistan.”

Dr. Hassan says that sporadic outbursts of anger in Pakistan won’t coalesce into a people’s revolution anytime soon. The…

1 June 2010Feature

A delegation of US peace activists visit the terrorised in Pakistan.

Islamabad: On 12 May, the day after a US drone strike killed 24 people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, two men from the area agreed to tell us their perspective as eyewitnesses of previous drone strikes.

One is a journalist, Safdar Dawar, general secretary of the Tribal Union of Journalists. Journalists are operating under very difficult circumstances in the area, pressured by both militant groups and the Pakistani government.

Six of his colleagues have been killed…

1 May 2010News in Brief

On 10 April, up to 71 civilians were killed in Pakistani government airstrikes near the Afghan border, part of the US-backed offensives against militants linked to the Afghan Taliban. Most of the victims are said to have died when Pakistani jets bombed a house where dozens had gathered to help the wounded from an earlier attack.
On 12 April, a US drone attack is said to have killed 13 people in the same area. 200,000 people recently fled northwest Pakistan to escape the fighting. The…

1 July 2009Feature

10 June: In Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite, the skies over Korea, in 1950, are described in this way:
“The planes always come… like planets on rotation. A timed bloodletting, with different excuses.” The most recent plane to attack the Pakistani village of Khaisor (according to a Waziristan resident who asked me to withhold his name) came 20 days ago, on 20 May. A US drone airplane fired a missile at the village at 4.30am, killing 14 women and children and two elders, wounding…

1 July 2009Feature

Voices for Creative Nonviolence visit Pakistan as aid workers leave.

2 June 2009: Shortly after arriving in Pakistan, one week ago, we met a weaver and his extended family, numbering 76 in all, who had been forcibly displaced from their homes in Fathepur, a small village in the Swat Valley.

Fighting between the Pakistani military and the Taliban had intensified. Terrified by aerial bombing and anxious to leave before a curfew would make flight impossible, the family packed all the belongings they could carry and fled on foot.

It was a harrowing…

1 June 2009News

On 3 May, more than 100 Afghan civilians were killed during airstrikes on the villages of Gerani, Gangabad and Koujaha in Farah province, western Afghanistan.
The US/NATO have confirmed that they use white phosphorus in Afghanistan, but when accused of particular white phosphorus attacks, they suggest (without providing any evidence) that the Taliban may have fired the rounds.

Meanwhile, on 19 May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 1.5m Pakistanis had been…

1 May 2009Feature

British commentators have been greatly impressed by Obama’s “new” strategy for the wars in Afghanistan/Pakistan (unveiled on 27 March, after PN2508 went to press), with the Independent’s leader writer claiming that it represented a “[complete] U-turn… shift[ing] the focus on to civilian projects and training”. “Fears in some quarters that the US planned an Iraq-style military ‘surge’, to be preceded by demands for many more combat troops from supposedly lily-livered European allies, were…

1 May 2009News

On 10 April 2009, Pakistan’s second-largest English-language newspaper (circulation 140,000), the News International, cited figures on US drone attacks “compiled by the Pakistani authorities”. According to these figures, of the 60 cross-border Predator drone strikes into Pakistan between 14 January 2006 and 8 April 2009, only 10 hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders. These 60 strikes also killed a reported 687 Pakistani civilians.

Of the 14 drone attacks…

1 May 2009News

While newspapers and politicians fulminate against the terrorist threat to Britain that supposedly emanates from Pakistan, few British commentators have even noticed the large-scale state terrorism being practised in Pakistan by the US and Britain – and the Pakistani government (under pressure from Washington).

When referred to at all – usually in passing – Pakistani government actions in the border Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) are usually referred to, euphemistically…

1 April 2009News

US talks peace and escalates war – in both Pakistan and Afghanistan

US president Barack Obama came to power promising both to talk to his enemies and to “finish the job” in Afghanistan (a phrase he used while visiting Kabul in July 2008). We are now seeing how these contradictory pledges are shaping US policy: “talking to enemies” has been revealed to be little more than propaganda; “finishing off the enemy” – through military escalation – is the core policy. The escalation is not only in Afghanistan, but across the border into Pakistan, and not only in the…