ISLAMABAD: Former boss of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is of the firm view that the military leadership is spilling ‘crocodile tears’, and attempting to cover up by cutting a ‘bad’ deal with the Americans relating to the release of a CIA contractor Raymond Allen Davis, by issuing an unprecedented statement condemning the latest drone attack in North Waziristan.
“Absolutely, I am of the firm view that these condemnations that we heard last night are nothing but crocodile tears. “Thousands of innocent lives have been lost in the past but the military and civilian leadership looked the other way by making polite noises. So why this hypocrisy and strong words now?” asks former ISI and MI chief Gen Assad Durrani.
Durrani was speaking to The News at a time when tribal elders of Tank in North Waziristan announced three-day mourning against the killing of 44 civilian of Mahsud tribe in US drone strike on Thursday. “I agree with Chief of Waziristan Malik Nasrullah who is demanding of the US government to provide ‘blood money’ to the heirs of victims killed in the attack,” said Durrani.
The News also received telephone calls from North Waziristan who claim that they got this correspondent’s telephone number from a PTCL directory, to ask how the government justifies giving blood money to those killed by an American in Lahore but not a single rupee has been paid to those killed in Fata by the US drone strikes.
“Why this duplicity?” asked one Roshan Khan. “The Pakistan army and the ISI cut a bad deal with the Americans and have egg on their face. They have seen the strong reaction from Pakistanis and to cover up this bad deal they have come out with this ‘unprecedented’ statement also telling the civil leadership to follow up.
I also feel that there might have been a tactical understanding with the Americans on future drone strikes so quickly, given the rising temperatures on the streets”, adds the former spy master, who has dealt with the Americans during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Only recently the military was publicly supportive of these drone strikes when General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmood stated in Miramshah that “most of those killed by the US drones were hardcore al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and a fairly large number of them were of foreign origin”.
“Myths and rumours about US Predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.
“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements,” he added. According to a report of the Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC), as of 2011, more than 2,000 persons have been killed, and most of those deaths are of innocent civilians.
The CMC termed the CIA drone strikes as an “assassination campaign turning out to be revenge campaign”, and showed that 2010 was the deadliest year ever of causalities resulting from drone attacks, with 134 strikes inflicting over 900 deaths.
According to former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand, “the assessment that we have, from the people directly affected in the tribal area, is that 80% of these casualties are innocent people.
When DG ISPR Gen Athar Abbas was asked why now they were screaming ‘bloody murder’, when in the past thousands of innocent and unarmed civilians have been killed, he responded, “This was a clear cut strike against a civilian jirga and there is a difference between this and taking out terrorists.”
Abbas’s emotional tone suggested anger. He said that even in the past they have protested but this time it was very different from the past. “We have as yet not had a response from the Americans”, he said.
The US Embassy says that like in the past they would not comment on the US drone attacks. When reminded that 40 civilians have been killed the spokesman said, “I know but our policy of not commenting remains the same.”