In the month of May, NATO continued to attack civilian targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan usingdeadly drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
In Afghanistan, a number of civilians were killed and injured in two separate airstrikes. The NATO mission in Afghanistan was forced to acknowledge the deaths and injuries to civilians and to “take full responsibility” for them. Referring to the “strategic partnership” that his government signed with US President Obama a short time earlier, Hamid Karzai, the Prime Minster of Afghanistan, protested saying that “if the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the signing of the strategic partnership has no meaning.”
In Pakistan, at least 10 people were killed in a drone strike on a compound in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry immediately declared that the "illegal attacks are a violation of (our) sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law". Earlier, in March, the Pakistan Parliament had demanded an end to the drone attacks on Pakistan’s border regions, but the US and its allies have paid no heed.
There were 45 US missile strikes on Pakistan in 2009, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011. It has been estimated that drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years.
Drone attacks are the newest weapon of choice used by the imperialist powers in their aggressive operations in this region and other parts of the world. The idea behind these attacks is to cause the maximum terror and damage with minimum losses to the attackers, since the drones are not manned and can be sent to attack any target from halfway across the world. Over the coming decade, the US is expected to double its expenditure on drones to more than $11 billion.
Drone attacks not only violate the sovereignty of the countries in which they are carried out, but they are in violation of all international norms and conventions about avoiding civilian casualties in warfare. The US and other imperialist powers, which shed crocodile tears about the human rights of people in different countries with which they do not have good relations, are in fact the worst offenders of human rights. Despite all their claims that drone strikes are “surgical” in nature, allowing them to target precisely individual “terrorists”, the actual experience has been anything but that. Countless civilians – including men, women and children – have been killed, and houses and civilian infrastructure ruined, on account of these strikes.
Opposition to the barbaric use of drones against people – either for surveillance or for strikes – is mounting not just in the affected countries, but also in the US and other NATO countries. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar strongly condemns the drone strikes carried out by the US imperialists and NATO against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.