PESHAWAR: The North Waziristan tribal jirga on Friday refused meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and boycotted his official function in Bannu after they were not allowed to speak and inform the premier about sufferings of the uprooted families.
“We refused to meet the prime minister and attend his official function in Bannu as the government and military officials had asked us to attend the gathering, enjoy the lunch but don’t open our mouth in front of the prime minister,” Sher Mohammad Wazir, head of North Waziristan tribal jirga, told The News on telephone from Bannu.
Sher Mohammad Wazir said some government officials had earlier assured them that someone from the jirga would be given a chance to speak and talk about the hardships of the internally displaced persons from North Waziristan.
“However, when elders of our jirga were preparing to draft demands and raise the deplorable condition of the uprooted families in Bannu and other places, senior government officials backtracked of their commitment,” the tribal elder complained.
Sher Mohammad Wazir, grandson of known freedom fighter Mirza Ali Khan alias Faqir of Epi, alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was kept in dark about the whole situation in North Waziristan and the plight of IDPs.
Another prominent member of the jirga, Hafiz Noorullah Shah said that the government later brought some ordinary tribesmen from among the IDPs and put turbans on their heads and presented them as tribal elders to the prime minister when members of the tribal jirga decided to boycott the official function.
“Senior government and military officials had approached us to attend the function and enjoy the lunch but said we would not be allowed to speak. We were anxiously waiting for the prime minister to come so we could inform him about the real situation on ground and then the inhuman treatment meted out with the displaced tribespeople. But they didn’t allow us to talk and we refused to boycott his function,” Hafiz Noorullah Shah said.
He said no one from 40-mmeber NWA tribal jirga attended the prime minister function in Bannu. “Government and military officials wanted us to stay away from the prime minister as they knew we would inform him about the real situation on ground. We also wanted inform the prime minister that all local and foreign troublemakers had left North Waziristan before the launch of military operation there. Therefore, we wanted to demand him to direct military authorities not to destroy our houses and markets,” tribal elder Sher Mohammad Wazir complained.
He complained that several houses and markets owned by local tribesmen had been blown up in Miranshah and Mir Ali despite the fact that people had fled the area.“Only innocent people are being suffered in this operation and that’s our main concern but no body is listening to us,” jirga head complained.
He said that after a meeting with governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and corps commander Peshawar, who gave them a deadline of June 20, the jirga went to Waziristan and held fruitful talks with the North Waziristan Taliban shura and all them agreed to expel local and foreign militants from the tribal region.
“We have successfully expelled half of the foreign militants and were going to oust the remaining when the military operation was launched. We wanted to complain the prime minister but were not given a chance,” Sher Mohammad Wazir complained.
He said the IDPs are being treated like animals but no one taking its notice.After the prime minister left for Islamabad, Sher Mohammad Wazir said senior government officials came to them and wanted them to end their protest.
“We told them that you people are treating us like animals. We made it clear on them that we don’t need your Rs20, 000 cash but don’t destroy our houses and buildings in Waziristan,” the tribal elder said.
He said they demanded of the government to give one-week relaxation in curfew in Waziristan so that people could bring out their precious goods they had left in home.A top government official when contacted in Bannu confirmed that some of the jirga members had boycotted the PM’s function but a few others were seen participating in the gathering.
“In the morning, the came to the office of commissioner Bannu and then went to the residence of Senator Faridullah Khan for a meeting. They couldn’t develop consensus whether they should boycott or attend the PM’s meeting after they were stopped from speaking. Later some of the elders decided to attend the function and others boycotted it,” the official said and wished not to be named.
Peshawar: Pakistani Taliban has slammed PTI chief Imran Khan, terming him a slave of America and Europe. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s spokesman Ahsanullah Farooqui told BBC that liberal was an English word, if Imran Khan considers himself a public leader then he should talk in Urdu which is national language of Pakistan.
He said that Imran Khan often says in his speeches that he was not Taliban’s supporters then ‘we are not in misunderstanding too’.
Khan told BBC in an interview that he was a liberal man and against of Taliban insurgents.
The TTP spokesman while defining a liberal man said that a man who considers himself free from all religions, adding such kind of cannot be preacher of Islam.
He said that he wants to inform PTI chief that he blames that Pakistani politicians were slave of the United States, but “ I want to inform Imran Khan that he is slave of those Americans who are not alive now.”
Meanwhile, PTI provincial spokesperson Zahid Hussain Momand said that his party was against of military operation in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Militancy would automatically be finished if war in the tribal regions stopped, he added.
Comment : One can only hope that some evil satanic mind in establishment is not thinking of exploiting this statement against IK like Benazir. May Allah protect everyone from the evil satanic minds running the country.
by Hamid Mir
ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan is no more a cricketer turned politician. He has suddenly become an important regional player in the US endgame in Afghanistan.
A mind-blowing public rally of Imran Khan in Lahore on October 30 made it very difficult for the Zardari regime to give new commitments or accept any demands from the US to push its decade-long war against terror. Imran Khan has not only become a threat for traditional political parties inside Pakistan but is also going to become a big hurdle in the implementation of demands made by US during the recent visit of Hillary Clinton to Islamabad.
The PTI leader criticised not only President Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif but also blasted US policies in the biggest-ever show of political power in Lahore in the past 25 years. The last time Lahore saw this kind of political tsunami was on April 10, 1986 when late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned after many years in exile. A big reception to the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a bombshell for the then military dictator. Benazir Bhutto addressed a big rally in Iqbal Park, adjacent to the historical Lahore Fort. That rally was the beginning of General Zia’s end.
The October 30 rally by Imran Khan in the same Iqbal Park also looked like an end of pro-US policies started by General Pervez Musharraf ten years ago. Imran addressed US Secretary of State as “Chachi Clinton” (Aunty Clinton) and said a big no to any more army operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It will now be impossible for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and its coalition partners to start new operations in North Waziristan or even continue the old operations from South Waziristan to Khyber Agency. Elections are close and no political government can take the risk of going against public opinion.
Hillary Clinton is these days desperately looking for someone who can become a bridge between Afghan Taliban and the US. Imran Khan can make some serious efforts in this regard but is more focused on the situation inside Pakistan. He has offered his services for the engagement of Pakistani Taliban but wants assurances that there will be no more military operations.
Imran said all this just one day before the meeting of President Asif Ali Zardari with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Istanbul. The US has arranged this meeting through Turkish President Abdullah Gull for the success of the Istanbul conference. Army Chief General Kayani also left for Turkey on Monday. Afghan officials will discuss the US endgame with Pakistan, India, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, UAE, Turkey, US and UK in Istanbul Conference from November 1.
The US wants some commitments from Pakistan at this conference and that is why the Pakistani Army Chief is also invited to this conference. However, Imran Khan’s massive anti-American rally has made it very difficult for Pakistani leaders to oblige their friends from Saudi Arabia and Turkey who have became part of the process on the US request.
Imran criticised the Army operations in the tribal areas in very strong words. He clearly said some tribal elders had given him assurances that if US drone attacks were stopped and the Pakistan Army halted operations in the tribal areas they would control all militants. Imran Khan also arranged meetings of these tribal elders (mostly from North Waziristan) with his ex-wife Jemima Khan who is making a documentary against drone attacks.
Jemima and Imran are separated but often meet because of their two sons. An American lawyer Clive Smith is also helping Jemima and they are planning a big campaign against drone attacks in the Western media. Jemima writes for Vanity Fair magazine. She is helping not only Imran but also Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, and Assange may also speak at the inauguration of documentary against drone attacks. The documentary is expected to have a lot of “WikiLeaks”. Imran Khan has repeatedly said, “Pakistan has changed”. He threatened, “I will not spare anyone who gave Pakistani bases to US and sold my people for dollars”.
Without naming Pervez Musharraf he sent him a message not to come back to Pakistan. He also said: “We want friendly relations with every country but we cannot accept slavery of America”. Imran Khan came out openly in support of the Kashmiris and advised India to withdraw its troops from Kashmir.
He tried to satisfy the central Punjab voters who are not happy with the soft stance of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif on India. This hawkish stance will definitely bring him closer to the military establishment but he opposes military action in Balochistan. He also criticised the role of Pakistan Army in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in his recently published book “Pakistan a Personal History”.
According to the sources in Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) more than a dozen ambassadors from different Western countries wanted to see Imran Khan this week but he left for China immediately after addressing the mammoth public rally in Lahore on Sunday night. He will be a guest of the Chinese government. His opponents often declared him “Taliban Khan” or the “modern face of Jamat-i-Islami” but hundreds of thousands of people enjoyed the songs of many popular singers in the Lahore rally. For some critics it became a grand musical show but the fact is that the crowd enjoyed the music at a public place after a very long time. Pakistan has many popular pop singers but they cannot sing at public places due to fear of suicide bombings that started in 2007. There was a suicide attack on the musical show of Sono Nagam sometime back in Karachi and after that many pop singers were threatened not to sing at public places. Many singers like Adnan Sami, Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar tried their luck in India in recent years but now they can come back.
Imran Khan is bringing back not only the political activities on the roads but also encouraging many pop singers like Shehzad Roy to sing publicly who made songs against drone attacks. Roy presented his famous song ‘uth bandh kamar kya darta hey phir dekh Khuda kya karta hey” in the Sunday rally. Thousands of youngsters were dancing on this song and Imran was clapping with them.
Imran Khan is becoming the voice of the common Pakistanis who are neither religious extremists not secular fascists. He is becoming a ray of hope for those disgruntled youngsters who have started hating democracy due to bad governance and corruption. These youngsters can now bring about a change in Pakistan through their vote power. Youth is the real power of Imran Khan and this youth belongs to the lower middle, middle class. This is the most disillusioned class in Pakistan but now the youth of this class is becoming active, which is a positive sign.
Dozens of sitting parliamentarians are contacting Imran Khan for joining his PTI. Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and many political big shots will make some shocking decisions soon but Imran is more interested in young blood and well-educated minds.
He warned the government on Sunday that all politicians must declare their assets inside and outside Pakistan within a few months failing which his party would launch a civil disobedience movement and block all major cities with public support. For many analysts he is emerging as the third option after Zardaris’s PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N.
Some say he will ruin Nawaz Sharif in the central Punjab and PPP would be the ultimate beneficiary. Imran does not agree with this analysis. He always criticises PPP and PML-N jointly because one is ruling at the centre and the other is ruling Punjab, which is more than 60 percent of Pakistan. Imran has definitely proved that he enjoys more political support in Lahore than Nawaz Sharif but it does not mean that he is going to get clear majority in the coming elections. He needs some winning horses not only in the central Punjab but also in south Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Sindh.
He needs big rallies in Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta and then he can make some bigger claims. He will definitely make dents not only in the vote bank of PML-N but will also damage the PPP badly. There are 25 seats of national assembly in Lahore division of which PML-N has 20, PPP has 3 and PML-Q has one. Imran may snatch at least half of the PML-N and all the seats won by PPP and PML-Q in Lahore. Out of 23 seats in Gujranwala division PML-N has 13, PPP 8 and PML-Q has 2. Imran will damage PPP and PML-Q more than PML-N in Gujranwala. There are 20 seats in Faisalabad division – PML-N has only 4 while PML-Q has 8 and PPP has 7 seats.
Many sitting members of the national assembly from Faisalabad are pleading to Imran to accept them in his party. Some PPP, PML-Q and ANP members from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also in contact with Imran, which means that his popularity is not confined to Punjab.
His biggest stronghold in the north is the tribal area where he is expected to make a clean sweep and more than 10 seats are in his pocket. This is the same area where he will not allow government to start any new Army operations.
If there is no operation then what will be the future of Pakistan-US relations? Zardari regime is at the crossroads. There is US pressure from one side and the PTI pressure from the other.
Nawaz Sharif was trying to play safe by targeting only Zardari and not the US but Imran Khan has suddenly changed the political dynamics in Pakistan. He is the new trouble man for US and also for the pro-US political elite in Pakistan. All the popular parties have no option other than to follow his anti-Americanism.
Hillary Clinton needs to realise the wave of change in Pakistani politics. She cannot understand this change without engaging Imran Khan. October 30 was just a beginning. World will see more changes on the political map of Pakistan and Imran Khan will play a leading role.
Missing persons killed by al Qaeda: SC told
Additional Attorney General for Pakistan Karim Khan Agha told a three-member bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal the data gathered from laptops in possession of Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz showed their links with al Qaeda. – File Photo
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that missing persons — Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz– had been killed by the terrorist outfit al Qaeda six years back.
Additional Attorney General for Pakistan Karim Khan Agha told a three-member bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal that resumed hearing of missing persons cases that the data gathered from laptops in possession of Janjua and Faraz showed their links with al Qaeda.
He said Janjua and Faraz had been killed some six years back and it was highlighted by the media as well.
Amna Masood Janjua, wife of Masood Janjua and chairperson Defence of Human Rights, claimed that her husband and Faisal Faraz had been alive and were in the custody of sensitive agencies.
She demanded that their graves should be identified and DNA tests be carried out to determine their identity.
Justice Javed Iqbal directed her to provide evidences in his chamber.
The bench who took up issue of chronic missing persons cases expressed dissatisfaction over delayed action against Frontier Constabulary personnel who had been identified by six of the missing persons’ families, accusing them of taking away their loved ones.
Asma Jehangir, president Supreme Court Bar Association and counsel apprised the bench that despite recommendations of Commission on missing persons, so far no action was taken against the FC personnel.
The bench also directed the police to present a report on next date of hearing in the case of MNA Fazal Rab Pirzada who had gone missing few years back.
Further hearing was adjourned till next week.
Either this is a lie or ISI/CIA are new Al-Qaeda. Imagine what other crimes (Benazir Murder,Islamic University Blast,Peshawar Market Blast etc)they may have done in the name of Al-Qaeda,TTP etc , infact many of the gorups have doubtful origins and no one knows where in hell they have come from.
After the WikiLeaks deluge
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan stands insecure as our leadership, both political and military, ruling the country have been exposed by no one else but Washington, to whom our leadership is shown by WikiLeaks to have sold their souls at the cost of national integrity, honour and prestige.
Is our fate in safe hands? This is the fundamental questionthat boggles almost every mind in Pakistan as the WikiLeaks bombshell, believed to be deliberately leaked by Washington to attain its designs including chaos in Pakistan, leaves hardly anyone among the leaders here to be trusted.
Each and every word of WikiLeaks would be taken as true if Pakistani authorities and leaders, blamed and shamed by these leaks, do not come out with a clear answer. They need to reply, more importantly through their actions, that Pakistan is no more American domain.
Otherwise, WikiLeaks precisely proves what was earlier said i.e. Pakistan has been practically reduced from a sovereign state to an American colony as the president, prime minister, top political leaders and even Army chief all have been shown pleasing or taking into confidence the US ambassador — the de facto viceroy of Pakistan — to continue ruling the roost with the blessings of Washington.
DG ISI Lt Gen Pasha too crossed the limits of discipline as he is shown by the WikiLeaks to have told US officials that President Asif Ali Zardari was corrupt. The question here arises why did he report such purely internal matter to the Americans.
The only exception has been Imran Khan, the man who on the face of Americans has been criticising US policies, drone attacks, the so-called war on terror besides asking for negotiated settlement with Taliban to end extremism and refusing to dance to the tunes of the “real masters” of this unfortunate country.
Shame is too little a word to reflect on the portrayed conduct of those ruling Pakistan after one goes through the WikiLeaks, which is expected to heap more dirt on Pakistan as well as the Muslim nations.
What would be more shameful than reading President Asif Ali Zardari as conceding to the Americans, “We are here because of you,” and then assuring Washington, “We won’t act without consulting with you.” To the pleasure of his masters, Zardari committed Pakistan to the war on terror, insisting that it was Pakistan’s own war.
Asfandyar Wali too shares the shame by inviting Washington to influence both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari through Jeddah and Dubai to mend fences. Why did he invite three foreign countries in matters purely pertaining to internal politics?
Look at the callousness of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who on the issue of drone attacks told Washington, “I don’t care if they (US) do it (carry out drone attacks) as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.” The premier had snubbed the interior minister Rehman Malik, who had suggested to the Americans that the Predator attacks should be stopped after the Bajaur operation.
Look at the double speak of the PML-N, whose top leadership both Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were shown repeatedly assuring the Americans that the PML-N was pro-America. To leave no doubt about his loyalty to the Americans, Nawaz recounted his decision to override his Chief of Army Staff and deploy Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the US coalition in the first Gulf War. Here Chaudhry Nisar Khan reminded that it was the PPP and its leaders who were organising street demonstrations against Pakistan joining with the US coalition.
Exposing the hypocrisy of the already stinking Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the WikiLeaks revealed that the leader of the country’s most fiercely pro-Taliban religious party, hosted a jovial dinner for Ms Patterson at which the Maulana sought her backing to become the prime minister and expressed a desire to visit America. His lieutenant Abdul Ghafoor Haideri acknowledged that “All important parties in Pakistan had to get the approval of the US (to get power).” Just compare the actions of these Maulanas to what they preach in their speeches. Simply disgraceful!
Interior minister Rehman Malik is referred to as a frequent and co-operative interlocutor, who professes his support for cooperation with the United States.
No less shocking is the way the Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been opening his heart and mind before the Americans, including the US ambassador. Otherwise giving the impression of being a man of few words, the Army chief spoke before the Americans against President Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, and also talked of getting resignation from the president and tailoring democracy to his sweet choice.
He also hinted at supporting Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of the Awami National Party, as the new president. Kayani even made it clear to Ms Patterson, the former US ambassador, that regardless of how much he disliked Zardari, he distrusted Nawaz even more.
Such hobnobbing of the military chief with any foreign diplomat or official, what to talk of Americans, is undoubtedly a violation of discipline and breach of his oath. Unluckily, we have a tainted president, tainted prime minister and tainted political leaders otherwise this is a fit case of seeking explanation from the Army chief.
With such leadership, both political and military, Pakistan’s future is really bleak. Whom should we trust? Who is free from the US influence? Can we become a sovereign nation? Can we take our own decisions? Why do we have more faith in Washington than in God? How could we save Pakistan from being destabilised after reading what our president, prime minister, political leaders and Army chief have said to a minnow American — Anne Patterson? With such leadership, how can we tackle the problem of terrorism? Who would save us from disgrace and shame?
One hardly has any answer to the above questions. Our irony is that our leaders are leading us to shame like never before. What option do they have to undo what they have brought for this country and its people? Resignations and stepping down from their respective public and political offices is one option. Another option is to say a firm no to the American drone attacks, cut the Nato supply line, revisit our policy on US’s so-called war on terror, halt all military operations inside Pakistan, open up dialogue with the local Taliban leaders to bring to an end terrorism and desist from dancing to the tunes of Americans.
Otherwise these leaks, containing truths and half-truths all suiting Washington but embarrassing others, are bound to create more mistrust and chaos in the country, which is the actual design of those having leaked it from Washington.
Army and so called liberals(in fact they are real fascists) don’t want to end this war because of their temporary benefits and satisfaction of their prejudices. They don’t realize or don’t want to realize that this game is setting some real wrong principles which can dangerous for them.
If indiscriminate bombings are right of tribal people then how can we protest if someone does the same on our so called civil society. Its an issue of setting wrong principles.
Before the operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’, an NGO financed preparation of fake video of flogging in which they portrayed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members flogging a woman. The provincial government and Malakand Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed ordered investigations and sought report from the authorities concerned.
After the successful operation in Malakand division, the law-enforcement agencies had arrested the children who were present in the video while a resident of Swat was apprehended by Kohat administration. The children and the arrested man revealed that the video was fake and said that it was made on the demand of Islamabad-based NGO which provided him Rs0.5 million.
Sources revealed that woman who was flogged in the video was also arrested and she revealed that she had received Rs0.1 million while Rs50,000 were given to each child. Sources said that the NGO produced the video to defame the country’s integrity and respect.
Sources stated that the law-enforcement agencies dispatched the report about the arrests of the culprits and proposed action against the NGO. They also said that the security agencies also apprehended the TTP workers who flogged the people.
Howard Zinn wrote it in 2001 after 9/11 and USA invasion of Afghanistan.
The article is important for those who find it liberal to support the current war and consider anti-war voices as Taliban. I hope Zinn will not be named as “Taliban Zinn”.
Just A Cause, Not A War
It Seems to Me by Howard Zinn
December 2001 Issue
A Just Cause, Not a Just War
I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.
And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.
I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves?
This war amounts to a gross violation of human rights, and it will produce the exact opposite of what is wanted: It will not end terrorism; it will proliferate terrorism.
I believe that the progressive supporters of the war have confused a “just cause” with a “just war.” There are unjust causes, such as the attempt of the United States to establish its power in Vietnam, or to dominate Panama or Grenada, or to subvert the government of Nicaragua. And a cause may be just–getting North Korea to withdraw from South Korea, getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or ending terrorism–but it does not follow that going to war on behalf of that cause, with the inevitable mayhem that follows, is just.
The stories of the effects of our bombing are beginning to come through, in bits and pieces. Just eighteen days into the bombing, The New York Times reported: “American forces have mistakenly hit a residential area in Kabul.” Twice, U.S. planes bombed Red Cross warehouses, and a Red Cross spokesman said: “Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
An Afghan elementary school-teacher told a Washington Post reporter at the Pakistan border: “When the bombs fell near my house and my babies started crying, I had no choice but to run away.”
A New York Times report: “The Pentagon acknowledged that a Navy F/A-18 dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on Sunday near what officials called a center for the elderly. . . . The United Nations said the building was a military hospital. . . . Several hours later, a Navy F-14 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a residential area northwest of Kabul.” A U.N. official told a New York Times reporter that an American bombing raid on the city of Herat had used cluster bombs, which spread deadly “bomblets” over an area of twenty football fields. This, the Times reporter wrote,”was the latest of a growing number of accounts of American bombs going astray and causing civilian casualties.”
An A.P. reporter was brought to Karam, a small mountain village hit by American bombs, and saw houses reduced to rubble. “In the hospital in Jalalabad, twenty-five miles to the east, doctors treated what they said were twenty-three victims of bombing at Karam, one a child barely two months old, swathed in bloody bandages,” according to the account. “Another child, neighbors said, was in the hospital because the bombing raid had killed her entire family. At least eighteen fresh graves were scattered around the village.”
The city of Kandahar, attacked for seventeen straight days, was reported to be a ghost town, with more than half of its 500,000 people fleeing the bombs. The city’s electrical grid had been knocked out. The city was deprived of water, since the electrical pumps could not operate. A sixty-year-old farmer told the A.P. reporter, “We left in fear of our lives. Every day and every night, we hear the roaring and roaring of planes, we see the smoke, the fire. . . . I curse them both–the Taliban and America.”
A New York Times report from Pakistan two weeks into the bombing campaign told of wounded civilians coming across the border. “Every half-hour or so throughout the day, someone was brought across on a stretcher. . . . Most were bomb victims, missing limbs or punctured by shrapnel. . . . A young boy, his head and one leg wrapped in bloodied bandages, clung to his father’s back as the old man trudged back to Afghanistan.”
That was only a few weeks into the bombing, and the result had already been to frighten hundreds of thousands of Afghans into abandoning their homes and taking to the dangerous, mine-strewn roads. The “war against terrorism” has become a war against innocent men, women, and children, who are in no way responsible for the terrorist attack on New York.
And yet there are those who say this is a “just war.”
Terrorism and war have something in common. They both involve the killing of innocent people to achieve what the killers believe is a good end. I can see an immediate objection to this equation: They (the terrorists) deliberately kill innocent people; we (the war makers) aim at “military targets,” and civilians are killed by accident, as “collateral damage.”
Is it really an accident when civilians die under our bombs? Even if you grant that the intention is not to kill civilians, if they nevertheless become victims, again and again and again, can that be called an accident? If the deaths of civilians are inevitable in bombing, it may not be deliberate, but it is not an accident, and the bombers cannot be considered innocent. They are committing murder as surely as are the terrorists.
The absurdity of claiming innocence in such cases becomes apparent when the death tolls from “collateral damage” reach figures far greater than the lists of the dead from even the most awful act of terrorism. Thus, the “collateral damage” in the Gulf War caused more people to die–hundreds of thousands, if you include the victims of our sanctions policy–than the very deliberate terrorist attack of September 11. The total of those who have died in Israel from Palestinian terrorist bombs is somewhere under 1,000. The number of dead from “collateral damage” in the bombing of Beirut during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was roughly 6,000.
We must not match the death lists–it is an ugly exercise–as if one atrocity is worse than another. No killing of innocents, whether deliberate or “accidental,” can be justified. My argument is that when children die at the hands of terrorists, or–whether intended or not–as a result of bombs dropped from airplanes, terrorism and war become equally unpardonable.
Let’s talk about “military targets.” The phrase is so loose that President Truman, after the nuclear bomb obliterated the population of Hiroshima, could say: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
What we are hearing now from our political leaders is, “We are targeting military objectives. We are trying to avoid killing civilians. But that will happen, and we regret it.” Shall the American people take moral comfort from the thought that we are bombing only “military targets”?
The reality is that the term “military” covers all sorts of targets that include civilian populations. When our bombers deliberately destroy, as they did in the war against Iraq, the electrical infrastructure, thus making water purification and sewage treatment plants inoperable and leading to epidemic waterborne diseases, the deaths of children and other civilians cannot be called accidental.
Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that.
I suggest that the history of bombing–and no one has bombed more than this nation–is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like “accident,” “military targets,” and “collateral damage.”
Indeed, in both World War II and in Vietnam, the historical record shows that there was a deliberate decision to target civilians in order to destroy the morale of the enemy–hence the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, the B-52s over Hanoi, the jet bombers over peaceful villages in the Vietnam countryside. When some argue that we can engage in “limited military action” without “an excessive use of force,” they are ignoring the history of bombing. The momentum of war rides roughshod over limits.
The moral equation in Afghanistan is clear. Civilian casualties are certain. The outcome is uncertain. No one knows what this bombing will accomplish–whether it will lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden (perhaps), or the end of the Taliban (possibly), or a democratic Afghanistan (very unlikely), or an end to terrorism (almost certainly not).
And meanwhile, we are terrorizing the population (not the terrorists, they are not easily terrorized). Hundreds of thousands are packing their belongings and their children onto carts and leaving their homes to make dangerous journeys to places they think might be more safe.
Not one human life should be expended in this reckless violence called a “war against terrorism.”
We might examine the idea of pacifism in the light of what is going on right now. I have never used the word “pacifist” to describe myself, because it suggests something absolute, and I am suspicious of absolutes. I want to leave openings for unpredictable possibilities. There might be situations (and even such strong pacifists as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed this) when a small, focused act of violence against a monstrous, immediate evil would be justified.
In war, however, the proportion of means to ends is very, very different. War, by its nature, is unfocused, indiscriminate, and especially in our time when the technology is so murderous, inevitably involves the deaths of large numbers of people and the suffering of even more. Even in the “small wars” (Iran vs. Iraq, the Nigerian war, the Afghan war), a million people die. Even in a “tiny” war like the one we waged in Panama, a thousand or more die.
Scott Simon of NPR wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on October 11 entitled, “Even Pacifists Must Support This War.” He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is “self-defense.” But the term “self-defense” does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn’t apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.
Pacifism, which I define as a rejection of war, rests on a very powerful logic. In war, the means–indiscriminate killing–are immediate and certain; the ends, however desirable, are distant and uncertain.
Pacifism does not mean “appeasement.” That word is often hurled at those who condemn the present war on Afghanistan, and it is accompanied by references to Churchill, Chamberlain, Munich. World War II analogies are conveniently summoned forth when there is a need to justify a war, however irrelevant to a particular situation. At the suggestion that we withdraw from Vietnam, or not make war on Iraq, the word “appeasement” was bandied about. The glow of the “good war” has repeatedly been used to obscure the nature of all the bad wars we have fought since 1945.
Let’s examine that analogy. Czechoslovakia was handed to the voracious Hitler to “appease” him. Germany was an aggressive nation expanding its power, and to help it in its expansion was not wise. But today we do not face an expansionist power that demands to be appeased. We ourselves are the expansionist power–troops in Saudi Arabia, bombings of Iraq, military bases all over the world, naval vessels on every sea–and that, along with Israel’s expansion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has aroused anger.
It was wrong to give up Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler. It is not wrong to withdraw our military from the Middle East, or for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, because there is no right to be there. That is not appeasement. That is justice.
Opposing the bombing of Afghanistan does not constitute “giving in to terrorism” or “appeasement.” It asks that other means be found than war to solve the problems that confront us. King and Gandhi both believed in action–nonviolent direct action, which is more powerful and certainly more morally defensible than war.
To reject war is not to “turn the other cheek,” as pacifism has been caricatured. It is, in the present instance, to act in ways that do not imitate the terrorists.
The United States could have treated the September 11 attack as a horrific criminal act that calls for apprehending the culprits, using every device of intelligence and investigation possible. It could have gone to the United Nations to enlist the aid of other countries in the pursuit and apprehension of the terrorists.
There was also the avenue of negotiations. (And let’s not hear: “What? Negotiate with those monsters?” The United States negotiated with–indeed, brought into power and kept in power–some of the most monstrous governments in the world.) Before Bush ordered in the bombers, the Taliban offered to put bin Laden on trial. This was ignored. After ten days of air attacks, when the Taliban called for a halt to the bombing and said they would be willing to talk about handing bin Laden to a third country for trial, the headline the next day in The New York Times read: “President Rejects Offer by Taliban for Negotiations,” and Bush was quoted as saying: “When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations.”
That is the behavior of someone hellbent on war. There were similar rejections of negotiating possibilities at the start of the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the bombing of Yugoslavia. The result was an immense loss of life and incalculable human suffering.
International police work and negotiations were–still are–alternatives to war. But let’s not deceive ourselves; even if we succeeded in apprehending bin Laden or, as is unlikely, destroying the entire Al Qaeda network, that would not end the threat of terrorism, which has potential recruits far beyond Al Qaeda.
To get at the roots of terrorism is complicated. Dropping bombs is simple. It is an old response to what everyone acknowledges is a very new situation. At the core of unspeakable and unjustifiable acts of terrorism are justified grievances felt by millions of people who would not themselves engage in terrorism but from whose ranks terrorists spring.
Those grievances are of two kinds: the existence of profound misery– hunger, illness–in much of the world, contrasted to the wealth and luxury of the West, especially the United States; and the presence of American military power everywhere in the world, propping up oppressive regimes and repeatedly intervening with force to maintain U.S. hegemony.
This suggests actions that not only deal with the long-term problem of terrorism but are in themselves just.
Instead of using two planes a day to drop food on Afghanistan and 100 planes to drop bombs (which have been making it difficult for the trucks of the international agencies to bring in food), use 102 planes to bring food.
Take the money allocated for our huge military machine and use it to combat starvation and disease around the world. One-third of our military budget would annually provide clean water and sanitation facilities for the billion people in the world who have none.
Withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, because their presence near the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina angers not just bin Laden (we need not care about angering him) but huge numbers of Arabs who are not terrorists.
Stop the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which are killing more than a thousand children every week without doing anything to weaken Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical hold over the country.
Insist that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, something that many Israelis also think is right, and which will make Israel more secure than it is now.
In short, let us pull back from being a military superpower, and become a humanitarian superpower.
Let us be a more modest nation. We will then be more secure. The modest nations of the world don’t face the threat of terrorism.
Such a fundamental change in foreign policy is hardly to be expected. It would threaten too many interests: the power of political leaders, the ambitions of the military, the corporations that profit from the nation’s enormous military commitments.
Change will come, as at other times in our history, only when American citizens– becoming better informed, having second thoughts after the first instinctive support for official policy–demand it. That change in citizen opinion, especially if it coincides with a pragmatic decision by the government that its violence isn’t working, could bring about a retreat from the military solution.
It might also be a first step in the rethinking of our nation’s role in the world. Such a rethinking contains the promise, for Americans, of genuine security, and for people elsewhere, the beginning of hope.