Baitullah Mehsud, Drones and Sovereignty

So, Baitullah Mehsud is apparently dead. BBC/Guardian/NYT/Dawn/GEO, pretty much everyone’s reporting it. First it was his wife, but now apparently Mehsud too might’ve perished in the same strike.

So, after quite a while, a drone strike seems to have struck at a worthwhile arm of the taliban, as opposed to replaceable foot soldiers. I’m not naive enough to believe that Pakistanis are all of a sudden going to find themselves in favour of these strikes, but at the very least I suppose we’ll see a bit of a hiatus in people claiming they’re worthless etc etc.

Which brings me to my failure at understanding why exactly we oppose them in the first place. See, for me, these drones are able to reach places the Pakistan army is incapable of reaching. They’re unmanned, which makes it safer to collect intelligence and guide missiles to a location where a Cobra gunship would be at risk (RPGs). Furthermore, whatever they gain, whether offered to us or not, is only in our ultimate advantage. The US surely doesn’t want to kill Pakistanis for fun – any strike is invariably aimed at someone considered important enough.

Politically, I suppose it helps Zardari too. He can avoid a substantial amount of bad press when a drone strike goes awry, because even though the government may tacitly support it, it’s not a Pakistani warhead that kills any innocent civilians.

As for issues of sovereignty, I fail to understand why they constantly arise. The taliban have violated our sovereignty, and unlike the US, their violations aren’t sovereign. Their violations are to an extent permanent, in so far as the fact that they’ve set up camps and the like. They aren’t sending a drone over for a couple of hours. Furthermore, any issues/damages caused by US drones are far, far lesser than what the Taliban are responsible for. However, we might have tacitly approved US intervention, and even if we didn’t, the US is still an ally. Say what you will, but their drones aren’t hovering over Lahore waiting to strike Alhamra. They aren’t hovering over Islamabad, waiting to strike the Marriott.

So, considering how we were incapable of taking the taliban to task (and still find a lot of sympathizers for their cause amongst our populace), why should we have a go at the US for simply taking care of our shit while we basically jack ourselves off in the corner?

Sovereignty schmovereignty.


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