Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims
Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims
By Randy Fabi and Aisha Chowdhry / reuters.com

The roars celebrating the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama on television give Mohammad Rehman Khan a searing headache, as years of grief and anger come rushing back.

The 28-year-old Pakistani accuses the president of robbing him of his father, three brothers and a nephew, all killed in a U.S. drone aircraft attack a month after Obama first took office.

"The same person who attacked my home has gotten re-elected," he told Reuters in the capital, Islamabad, where he fled after the attack on his village in South Waziristan, one of several ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border.

"Since yesterday, the pressure on my brain has increased. I remember all of the pain again."

In his re-election campaign, Obama gave no indication he would halt or alter the drone program, which he embraced in his first term to kill al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan without risking American lives.

Drone strikes are highly unpopular among many Pakistanis, who consider them a violation of sovereignty that cause unacceptable civilian casualties.

"Whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake. Look at how many people he has killed with drone attacks," said Haji Abdul Jabar, whose 23-year-old son was killed in such a bombing.

Analysts say anger over the unmanned aircraft may have helped the Taliban gain recruits, complicating efforts to stabilize the unruly border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could also hinder Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Obama authorized nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during his first four years in office, more than six times the number during the administration of George W. Bush, according to the New America Foundation policy institute.

Since 2004, a total of 337 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,908 and 3,225 people.

The institute estimates about 15 percent of those killed were non-militants, although that percentage has declined sharply to about 1-2 percent this year. Washington says drone strikes are very accurate and cause minimal civilian deaths.

The Pakistani government says tens of thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in the fight against militants. Many were civilians caught in suicide bombings. Others were killed by the Pakistani army.

"NO DIFFERENCE"

Getting accurate data on casualties and the effects of drones is extremely difficult in the dangerous, remote and often inaccessible tribal areas. The Taliban often seal off the sites of strikes.

While the aerial campaign has weakened al Qaeda, its ally, the Pakistani Taliban, remains a potent force despite a series of Pakistan army offensives against their strongholds in the northwest.

Seen as the biggest security threat to the U.S.-backed Pakistani government, that faction of the Taliban is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, and a number of high profile attacks on military and police facilities.

"We are amazed that Obama has been re-elected. But for us there is no difference between Obama and Romney; both are enemies. And we will keep up our jihad and fight alongside our Afghan brothers to get the Americans out of Afghanistan," said Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed the gates of a military base in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, killing at least one soldier and wounding more than a dozen people.

Pakistanis were largely indifferent in the run-up to Tuesday's election, expecting little change to the drone attacks regardless of whether Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney won.

"Any American, whether Obama or Mitt Romney, is cruel," Warshameen Jaan Haji, whose neighborhood was struck by a drone last week, told Reuters on the eve of the election. "I lost my wife in the drone attack and my children are injured. Whatever happens, it will be bad for Muslims."

Pakistani politician Imran Khan, a vocal critic of U.S. drone strikes, said he believed Obama stepped up the attacks in his first term so he wouldn't look weak on national security.

"I think Obama essentially has an anti-war instinct," he told Reuters. "Without the worry of being re-elected, he will de-escalate the war, including the use of drones. This is positive."

But for Mohammad Khan, who is not related to the former cricketer, the damage is already done.

The February 2009 drone attack that destroyed his home left him as the main provider for 13 family members, forcing him to move to Islamabad and work with a real estate company.

"When the Sandy hurricane came, I thought that Allah would wipe away America," he said. "America just wants to take over the world."

(Additional reporting by Hafiz Wazir in Wana, Haji Mujtaba in Miranshah and Mehreen Zahra-Malik in Islamabad; Editing by Ron Popeski and Robert Birsel)

4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 16,936 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Protests Intensify, Spread Across France as Workers Refuse Submission
Andrea Germanos · 12,500 views today · 'What we want today is for this movement to spread,' says unionist.
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 9,013 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Permaculture Has Some Incredible Solutions For Transforming Suburbia Into Resilient Communities
Chip Richards · 7,224 views today · Rather than waiting for society to all agree how we need to live in a different way, by focusing here in the suburban household, people can actually get on with making...
Changing Everything Except What Needs Changing: What's Missing From The Renewable Energy Debate
Steven Gorelick · 6,823 views today · Among climate change activists, solutions usually center on a transition to renewable energy. There may be differences over whether this would be best accomplished by a carbon...
Something Extraordinary Is Happening in the World, And Most People Haven't Noticed
Gustavo Tanaka · 5,412 views today · Most of us haven't quite realized there is something extraordinary happening. A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that...
Who Is Creating the Future Nobody Wants?
Joe Brewer · 4,132 views today · Here’s an amazing fact: It’s 2016 and humanity is collectively moving toward a future that nobody wants. We are literally going somewhere that will hurt every single one of...
The System Is Failing. We All Know It. It's Time to Start Talking about What's Next
4 min · 4,107 views today · Growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something...
Ikigai - Finding Your Reason for Being
Chip Richards · 3,877 views today · What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning? When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical...
The Most Eco-Friendly Nation on the Planet Is Now Carbon Negative
Carolanne Wright · 3,302 views today · Lodged between two of the most populated countries on earth — India and China — Bhutan may be small at 700,000 souls, but it has a mighty role to play in showing the world how...
6 Toxic Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Normal
Mark Manson · 3,183 views today · There’s no class in high school on how to not be a shitty boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, they teach us the biology of sex, the legality of marriage, and maybe read a few...
Why Spirituality Is the Key to a More Visionary Politics
Ronan Harrington · 2,942 views today · Progressive renewal lies in a deep recognition that we are not choosing our current lives.
The Most Radical Experiment in Direct Democracy and Gender Equality can be Found in the Middle East
Rahila Gupta · 2,834 views today · Rahila Gupta meets the women fighters who are helping to stop the advance of ISIS while also leading a radical democratic charge against capitalist ideology. Welcome to the...
A 10-Point Programme for 21st Century Democratic Socialism
Jeremy Gilbert · 2,604 views today · In response to Jeremy Corbyn's  'Standing to Deliver' plan "for a fairer and more successful Britain," Jeremy Gilbert suggests an additional 10 things to plug some of the holes...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,464 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
A Simple 6 Step Self Compassion Exercise to Combat Depression and Low Self Esteem
5 min · 2,092 views today · It’s all too easy to be extremely tough on ourselves; we need – at points – to get better at self-compassion. Here is an exercise in how to lessen the voices of self-flagellation.
A World War Has Begun - Break The Silence
John Pilger · 1,993 views today · I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, "Where is...
Face It: Our Democracy Is a Sham. We Don't Have a Real Say in Most Decisions That Affect Our Lives
CELDF · 1,946 views today · Are we able to stop fracking and other threats to the environment from coming into our communities?  Are we able to protect local farming from sewage sludge or factory...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,906 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Comic: If Bart Simpson and Chris Griffin Went to Couples Therapy
Panic Volkushka · 1,852 views today · "My dad was an abusive alcoholic, or whatever. He'd go to the bar, come home drunk, find out I'd f-cked up at school, and he'd choke me out."
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims