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)

Load Comments
You Might Be Interested In
5 min · Barack Obama has personally ordered mass murder in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond, in his policy of illegal and immoral assassination which far outstrips that of the George W Bush administration, and which has slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians, including many...
12 min · The Riz Khan show looks at how electronic voting could be manipulated to flip the outcome of the 2008 US presidential election. A great 12 minute synopsis of the issue, up to the minute. The Riz Khan show airs on Aljazeera, the world's first English language news channel to...
5 min · On his HBO show Friday night, Bill Maher complained about President Obama's frequent public outings. He compared the president to Lindsay Lohan: in the papers a lot but not doing very much. "This is not what I voted for," Maher said, arguing that Obama has maintained his...
17 min · Riz Khan talks to John Perkins about his book on global corruption. Perkin's book, entitled "Confessions of an Economic Hit man," was on the New York Times best seller list when it was first published in 2004. "Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid...
56 min · Today we look back at 2013. It was a historic year. Edward Snowden exposed how the National Security Agency had built a worldwide surveillance apparatus, while Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail for leaking U.S. secret documents to WikiLeaks. Pope Francis urged...
177 min · Episode 1 – The Battle Begins In the 1970s the world seemed to be falling apart. From acid rain to overpopulation, ecological concerns were at the fore. And it was at this time that climate change first became a hot political issue. But it wasn’t global warming that...
70 min · War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable...
7 min · Obama supporters condemn right-wing-sounding policies when they think they’re Romney’s, but either excuse them or go into denial  when told that the policies are actually Obama’s. Here are some of the sources that were mentioned throughout the interviews 
5 min · The second installment in a Star Wars themed parody of the 2008 presidential election, featuring Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others.
2 min · As the US presidential campaign enters its final weeks, both the Republican and Democratic candidates are hitting the swing states. But misconceptions and rumors abound and many voters have their facts about the candidates all wrong. Some believe that Democrat Barack Obama is...
72 min · Released in 2006, this is still one of the most compelling films outlining the disturbing and heavily censored facts associated with the worst terrorist attacks in American history. The film focuses on prior knowledge and smoking gun facts. It does not cover evidence covered...
5 min · Both Dick Cheney and Barack Obama make us less safe.
Ari Berman · During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama said over and over that he was running to "put an end to the Bush-McCain philosophy." Campaigning in Colorado just days before the election, Obama clearly stated his opposition to Bush-era economic policies and...
John Pilger · In the week Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he  ordered bombing attacks on Yemen, killing a reported 63 people, 28 of them children. When Obama recently announced he supported same-sex marriage, American planes had not long blown 14 Afghan civilians to...
Earth First! News · To murder several runners using bombs at a sporting event is terrorism. To murder 175 children using military drones is U.S. policy. We should accept neither. We should fight against both. List of children killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen: Compiled...
Films For Action · Several items today relate to the issue of gross U.S. media propaganda and Obama’s national security policies: (1) I have an Op-Ed in The Guardian today on how the American media has been repeatedly and willingly coopted in the Obama administration’s propagandistic abuse of...
Amy Goodman · CANCUN, Mexico—Critical negotiations are under way here in Cancun, under the auspices of the United Nations, to reverse human-induced global warming. This is the first major meeting since the failed Copenhagen summit last year, and it is happening at the end of the...
Abby Zimet · Days before Bradley - now Chelsea - Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping expose U.S. war crimes in Iraq, the Obama Department of Justice filed a 
It's Our Economy · The economic collapse of 2008 came at the end of three decades of stagnant wages that resulted in record household debt and made it apparent that the economy does not work for most Americans.  Even during the collapse the rich got richer and the poor got poorer as trillions...
Matthew Toplikar · DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, represents bigotry and discrimination against millions of Americans who want the same rights the rest of us cherish. We don’t need to wait for a study. We don’t need to read a poll. We know right from wrong. And we know it’s time for DOMA to...
Like us on Facebook?