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June 12, 2011

Capital suggestion The drone dilemma


June 12, 2011

Public Enemy Number One is inflation. Public Enemy Number Two is terrorism. Public Enemy Number Three is unemployment. In January 2011, Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International, carried out a survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,754 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of the country. They were asked the following question: “In your opinion which is the biggest problem currently faced by Pakistan?”
A total of 55 percent considered inflation the biggest issue currently faced by Pakistanis, followed by 21 percent who considered terrorism the biggest issue and 16 percent who said unemployment was the biggest problem (eight percent gave other responses).
Conclusion: For 92 percent of all Pakistanis, drone attacks are not the “biggest problem currently faced by Pakistan.” (
There have so far been a total of 249 drone strikes since the first strike on June 18, 2004. Of the 249 strikes, 70 percent have landed on targets in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). As per the 1988 census, the NWA has 361,246 residents. When was the last time that these residents protested against these strikes?
Next, of the 249 strikes, 24 percent have landed on targets in South Waziristan Agency (SWA). As per the 1988 census the SWA has 429,841 residents. When was the last time that these residents protested against these strikes?
Next, Golden Arrow, the 7th Infantry Division of Pakistan Army’s XI Corps is our “oldest and most battle-hardened division.” The men and officers of Golden Arrow have fought in the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947, 1965, 1971, the ongoing Siachen War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1999. Among its notable commanders are General Yahya Khan and General Asif Nawaz.
Major General Ghayur Mehmood (Tamgha-e-Basalat) is the current General-Officer-Commanding Golden Arrow. The 7th Infantry Division with its 20,000 plus officers and men, is currently

deployed in Miranshah, the headquarters of the NWA.
On March 9, 2011, Major General Ghayur Mehmood called a media briefing. The general said: “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 hard-core elements and a sizable number of them are foreigners.”
Next, according to the BBC, “Recent research by the Ariana Institute in Islamabad found that around 80 percent of people interviewed in Pakistan’s tribal belt felt that targeting by the drone strikes was accurate. Many said that foreign fighters (Arabs, Uzbeks and Tajiks, among them) in particular were being affected. Dr Khadim Hussain, director of the institute, says research about whether or not Waziris resented the drone strikes proved inconclusive.” (
Next, there is no statistical correlation between drone strikes and suicide attacks. To begin with, the first suicide attack in Pakistan took place on November 19, 1995 that killed 17 and injured more than 60 in Islamabad. In 2002, there were two more suicide attacks. Suicide attacks peaked in 2009 when there were 78 attacks but drone attacks kept on increasing from 53 in 2009 to 117 in 2010.
Next, the Pakistan Army has over the years developed-and refined-a highly complex combat doctrine called the ‘Riposte’ (French for ‘retort’). In essence, it is a limited ‘offensive-defence’ fully focused towards India, Pakistan’s archenemy. Our man-portable air defence systems, medium-altitude air defence systems, high-altitude air defence systems and our anti-aircraft guns are all focused towards India.
Truth, it is said, is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies. A lie is known to travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. To be sure, truth makes nations strong, not weak.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: [email protected]

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