A Terrifying whistling sound from the sky: Drones, the nightmare of people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia. Commanded by a control center thousands of kilometers away, these machines rain down ‘hell fire,’ making no allowances for women, children or the elderly.fTur ‘Hellfire’ is the name given to the missiles fired by American drones, or ‘Reapers’. Drones have become the scourge of people living in tribal areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan and cause traumatic disorders to emerge.
Children who hear the sound of the drones start crying and screaming. As their name suggests, these aircraft sometimes slay all the members of a household, women, children, the elderly and other innocent people included. Sometimes they slay villagers attending a funeral, or young people dancing together at a wedding. The justification is always that ‘There were radical fighters at the funeral, at that wedding or in that village.’ But no pretext can legitimize blowing to smithereens a three-year-old girl, a primary school student or an 80-year-old grandfather. Drones have been widely used since the Bush administration in tribal areas with civilian populations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somali and Yemen. Drone strikes during the tenure of President Obama have killed nearly six times as many people as were killed under Bush administration.According to figures from human rights organisations, more than 3,500 people have been killed in Pakistan alone, including 178 children; these are just official figures. Unofficial figures put the civilian death toll much higher.
Similar casualties are reported in Yemen. In February 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who favors the drone strikes, estimated they had killed 4,700 people. The latest civilian to die in a drone attack in Afghanistan was Gul Nawaz, a 75-year-old Pakistani refugee living in the district of Alishir in the province of Khost . The governor of Khost’s request to NATO forces in the region as to the reason for the killing has thus far not been answered.
One hundred forty-eight children lost their lives in a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan a few months ago. The number of children killed to date in drone strikes is 178. Whether children are dying in terror attacks or drone strikes, it makes no difference; urgent precautions must be taken. Unless measures are taken to prevent civilian deaths in drone attacks, the rising figures from such attacks will end in a hell on earth where children are killed as they play and women are killed as they care for their children. It must not be forgotten that this picture should be just as distant from people in the East as it is from those in the West. Western countries whose mission is to bring peace and justice to the world will only be taken seriously to the extent of the value they place on human rights in practice, as opposed to in theory. That mission will obviously remain theoretical so long as the human rights of people in the East are regarded as less important than those of people in the West.
Drones are one of the most serious examples of human rights violations in regions of conflict in the world today. It is a grave crime to kill civilians. It is a violation of human rights and the rules of war to murder, through aerial bombing, people who are alleged to be fighters with no investigation or judicial process. Drone technology today – in a time of huge technological advances – should only be used for the purposes of logistics and intelligence, not to ‘seek and destroy.’ Indeed, that technology must be improved still further to prevent terror attacks through the gathering of intelligence so that not a single civilian will be harmed. Preventive intelligence will dry up the terrorists’ life blood if destructive bombing is stopped.
It must not be forgotten that violence is the main cause of terror; responding to terrorist violence with Hellfire missile strikes and thus harming the civilian population in the process is an undreamed of bonus for terrorists. A father who sees his child blown into pieces by a missile as she plays with her dolls, or villagers who witness that scene, will easily be won over by terror groups and turned into enemies. Then if you ask who is responsible, the answer is everyone who acted in haste and embraced violence rather than giving peace a chance and trying diplomacy,education and dialogue.