PTI Chairman Imran Khan sees extremism in tribal areas ‘due to drone strikes’

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PakistanTehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday said that extremism has increased in tribal areas of Pakistan due to drone strikes by the US forces. In an interview to a Russian television, he criticisedthe federal government and said that it (government) was devoid of self-respect.He said that Pakistan only wants peace in Afghanistan, not drone attacks. He said that the drones take lives of everyone including children and elderly people; therefore they should be banned in Pakistan.He said that he did more than any other Pakistani to put an end to the drone strikes.

“The use of drones are inhuman tactics of killing people through remote control, like on a computer game… dehumanising them, treating them like they’re from some other planet… not giving them basic rights or proving their innocence,” he said. He said that he can’t understand how the Americans can think that “a bomb when it bursts, its shrapnel knows exactly, who is a terrorist and who is a woman; who is a child; who is a grandmother.”

Imran stressed that the drone missions were carried out in the tribal areas, where people live in fragile mud houses providing little protection.“There are so many incidents of people being killed, who had nothing to do with terrorism… They [the US] claim they killed a terrorist and then you see that they are alive, so who have they killed,” he questioned.

“There should be no terrorism now if drone strikes are as effective as the Pentagon and CIA say,” he said. He also said that the use of drones for extra-judicial killings was counter-productive in fighting terrorism, as it creates anti-Americanism that directly feeds into recruiting terrorists. “The collateral damage of drone attacks turns normal human beings into terrorists, into human bombs, people go and blow themselves up,” he added.

The PTI chairman recalled a tragic incident involving the family of a young student and cricket player at a technical college he founded in Mianwali, Punjab.“He [the young man] was in his final year of electrical engineering and suddenly he finds out that in his family compound in Waziristan there was an airstrike and his family was killed. And then he disappears; he goes back, obviously, to where his family was killed. And six months later we find out that he had blown himself up in Afghanistan on a NATO convoy,” he said.

The politician said that the people do not want drone strikes – they want the war to stop in Afghanistan. “What we hope is that there is a settlement; there’s peace in Afghanistan because Pakistan is affected by what happens in our neighbourhood,” he said, adding that the drones are an obstacle to peace. He said that the authorities were not asking the US to stop drone strikes and they were not sharing number of civilian casualties.

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