Sometime last week one of my former students asked me to help her with a protest in front of US Consulate in Karachi against the latest NATO attack on Pakistani soil killing 24 soldiers. Now don’t get me wrong, I am as fond of protesting against the injustices as the next person, but I have serious questions about the whole brouhaha that surrounds the latest development.
For starters, NATO has been violating our borders for quite some time now and quite a huge number of Pakistani citizens have died but no one barring the leadership of Jamat-e-Islami and Tehrik-e-Insaaf uttered a single word against those deaths. The victims of drone attacks were called collateral damage. Pakistan army’s silence was especially baffling considering it is their responsibility to defend the borders and its citizens, but ISPR never issued any statement over the serious death toll that occurred due to drone attacks – even when a baraat (wedding procession) was attacked. If the wikileaks’ released cables are to be believed (and there is no reason we should not believe them), it is evident that instead of protesting against the drone attacks, the army actually requestedthe US government for greater drone back up to support their own military operations on the ground. What I find most surprising is that such duplicitous policy of the armed forces did not result in country wide protests against them. Apart from the five usual suspects who decry military’s role in country’s foreign and domestic policy, no one took much notice of it. If inviting another military to attack your own soil without disclosing it is not the betrayal of highest order and a seditious act, then what is?
I am just as saddened by the deaths of 24 army men as anyone who has respect for human life, but the lives that we have lost in Pakistan as the result of the same military’s tacit acceptance of drone attacks by another country and its oppressionin Baluchistandemand the same empathy and compassion, if not more. I hardly see it anywhere.
Instead of protesting in front of US embassy (chances are that we will be stopped from doing so by our own law enforcement agencies) we need to indulge in a little introspection and ask the following questions:
– What provoked this attack? According to reports, cross border skirmishes and exchange of rocket fire between Pakistani and NATO forces in not something new. According to NYTreport, there have been 55 ground-to-ground rockets fired between Pakistan and NATO forces.
– What was Pakistan air force doing? The attack apparently went on for an hour. They were nowhere to defend our borders. What’s the point of spending a bulk of the tax payers’ and foreign aid money on the armed forces when they cannot quickly come to defense of the troops under attack by the foreign forces?
I am horrified at the US nonchalance and the super cavalier response from their government – it took President Obama a good three days to offer condolence and express regret at the loss of 24 lives – but I do not see any point in protesting in front of the US consulate. I would, however, love to stand with those who want to protest in front of GHQ, taking them to task for their repeated incompetence and many treacherous acts.
PS: How can anyone take these protests seriously when Jamaat-ud-dawa activists dupe children into participating in anti-US rallies by conning their parents into believing that they would be attending a science fair?