Hangu drone attack

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It has been reported in the international press by Annabel Symington that Mullah Ahmad Jan, a senior Afghan commander of the Haqqani group, was killed in the drone attack in Hangu. The report is based upon witnesses as reported by an Afghan official. It is amazing that this information was almost immediately known to the Afghan official and was published in Symington’s article in Wall Street Journal on 21 November, 2013. It clearly proves the physical presence of several persons at the site who confirmed the killing. It may be recalled that only few days ago Nasiruddin Haqqani was killed in Islamabad.

No one doubts the sincerity of Imran Khan. However, his press conference after the drone attack was an honest person’s immediate reaction without careful analysis of the conditions obtaining in the country and examining other alternatives. His call for stopping NATO supplies is unlikely to stop drone attacks. The US will just use the northern route which will only make it more expensive for them and take a little longer.

It needs to be realised that the drone attacks and the assassination in Islamabad are not possible without the active presence of people like Dr Afridi on the ground, who provide the necessary ground intelligence. Such Quislings do not work unsupervised. There is always a “handler”. The time tested and well known method is to ensure that the link between the two is broken.

The suggestion of shooting down drones could have a grave reaction and have serious implications. One alternative for Imran Khan is to publicly ask the US to reduce the number of their staff in their Consulate in Peshawar and seek public support for this. It is most likely that the US will just ignore it. In that case the path will be cleared for Imran Khan to up the ante and do what KGB used to do – have every member of US Consulate in Peshawar watched by unarmed young men on motorcycles to ensure that their activities are monitored and kept track of thus making them ineffective. It is most important that this is done after a declaration to do so publicly in a press conference. The going public will ensure the safety of the young watchers.

INAM KHAWAJA

Lahore