Feb 20, 2009
According to a story in this newspaper, images from Google Earth dating to 2006 show unmanned aerial vehicles, the kind used for attacks in tribal areas, stationed on the ground at an airfield in Balochistan – possibly near Kharan. These pictures may not on their own prove that the drone attacks on FATA originate from within Pakistan, but they go a long way towards adding weight to the mounting body of evidence that this may well be the case. Indeed, even before US Senator Dianne Feinstein – the head of the Senate's intelligence committee – made her comments about bases within Pakistan, suspicion as to their presence existed in many places. In 2008 and now, just the other day, two major US newspapers published stories quoting unnamed US officials as saying that such bases do exist in Pakistan.Surely the government must realize it is time to come clean. It cannot continue to fool people. Most citizens are intelligent enough to see the truth. Further deception will do more harm than good. The real question is what is to be done for the future. The presence of bases used by the US within the country is simply unacceptable. Opinion about this is unanimous. The suggestion coming in from the US that the raids be re-cast as 'joint operations' needs to considered carefully by our decision-makers. This may, for the present, seem to be the only way out. But a crucial prong in this approach must be to persuade people that the war against terrorists is one led and planned by Islamabad; that it is being fought for the sake of the people of Pakistan. This conviction has still to be created and in its absence the US involvement is, naturally, one that arouses a great deal of anger even though the drone attacks have removed a number of high-level targets.