Tighe Barry, reports from the 2012 Pakistan delegation
On Sunday September 30, a group of peace activists, coordinated by CODEPINK from the United States, held a press conference in Islamabad with Pakistan’s most popular political leader, Imran Khan. Khan is former cricket champion and presently chairman of PTI, a lead party in the Pakistani political landscape today. They discussed the horrific effects that drone strikes are having on the everyday lives of the people of FATA and Waziristan, and all the innocent victims who have died in what the U.S. government describes as “precision strikes.” The group expressed its concern that these murders are taking place in the name of all Americans and that they wanted to convey their apologies and deep regrets for the actions of the U.S. government. Banners declaring “Stop Killer Drones”, and “When Drones Fly Children Die” were displayed to show that the Americans’ concern for the over 175 children who have been killed by drones in Pakistan.
Imran Khan described the debilitating effects that the 11 year war being waged by the United States on the people of Afghanistan and on his nation. He lamented that Pakistan has been paying the price of this proxy war that the United States is waging against Afghanistan, now fought on Pakistani soil.
Khan introduced the U.S. delegation to a group of reporters waiting to ask the question “Why have you come?.” Retired Colonel Ann Wright, who is also a veteran of the U.S. foreign service, spoke on behalf of the delegation. She stated that under international law and the articles of the Geneva Convention, the drone attacks are illegal and are an act of war against the peaceful nation of Pakistan.
Khan announced that with the help of the government of Pakistan and the security of the PTI, there will be an historic March Against Drones on October 7 to highlight that the people of Pakistan, the Parliament of Pakistan (which has three times voted unanimously to insist the the American Government end its covert CIA drone warfare) and those Americans who have come to Pakistan have had enough of the murder of up to 3,500 innocent people. He announced that their voices will be joined by 100,000 peace-loving people of Pakistan who want to express their solidarity with the people of Waziristan by marching into that region where US drones kill and terrorize the population on a regular basis.
The American delegates will march with Mr. Khan and the Pakistani people in spite of the danger posed by the conflict in the region, a region that has been off limits–until now–to journalists and foreigners.
At the press conference, Col. Ann Wright was joined by Leah Bolger, a former naval Commander and chair of Veterans for Peace; an engineer and scientist Robert Mulford from Alaska; award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles Suzie Gilbert; 20-year veteran of American film and television Tighe Barry; William Kelly, a humanitarian who devotes his time to assist orphan children of Vietnam; and Allison McCraken from CODEPINK, the organization responsible for this historic delegation.