by Joe Scarry
I thought I could be sure about one thing: on Friday, October 25, when the United Nations takes up the two reports on U.S. drone killings, Pakistan would be a strong voice demanding U.S. compliance with the recommendations of the report.
After all, at an all Parties Conference convened by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan on in early September, the participants unanimously recommended the initiation of dialogue with all the stakeholders to curb terrorism and taking up the drones issue at the United Nations. The resolution said, in part:
Now, the newly-issue report of UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, makes it clear that the U.S. has to report fully on all its drone attacks.
Surprise, surprise: Barack Obama has arranged for a little “talk” with the Pakistan leader prior to the U.N. event. As trumpeted in The New York Times, the U.S. will be dangling $1.5 billion in restored aid in front of the Pakistani leader.
Oh, and by the way, might the U.S. also suggest in that meeting that Sharif should remain silent about drones for a few days?
(An offer he can’t refuse?)
This is not new in kind — the U.S. dictates course of action (and inaction) to Pakistan all the time — but in magnitude is probably the biggest thing since the Bush administration went to Musharraf shortly after 9/11 and said, “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”
At a time when the international community is making remarkable strides in working together to avert conflict, confrontation, war, and injury and doing the difficult work of multilateral peacemaking, it is important that the U.S. avoid even the appearance of trying to undermine this work. Yes, “even” Pakistan deserves to have its own voice.
Maybe we need to demand transparency for all the talks between the U.S. and the Pakistani leaders. That’s right — all the nitty-gritty back-and-forth. The public can handle it. We’ve already seen The Godfather.
The UN reports: No one has any illusions that getting the United States to obey the law will be easy. But at least now — with the member states of the UN stating what’s required in black and white — we have a start.
On Sunday, September 7, 2013, the New York Times ran an account of a drone strike that had occurred the previous Thursday: U.S. Drone Strike Kills 6 in Pakistan, Fueling Anger . This short account is a case study in what is wrong with the U.S. drone wars.
There can be no question but that Americans and the rest of the world will eventually wake up to the terror being inflicted in their name on Pakistanis and others. The only question that will then remain will be whether Obama, Panetta, and the whole drone “kill chain” will be prosecuted as war criminals or as ordinary criminals. (And God help them if they are condemned to the limbo of “unlawful enemy combatant” – entitled to neither civil nor military justice.) (See #NATOvictims – Drone Strikes in Pakistan )