Lorna VanderZanden, reports from the 2012 Pakistan delegation
When the CODEPINK delegation was meeting with the women of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, the political party of Imran Khan), one of the women stepped forward and asked some very thought provoking questions to the delegation. “How does one nation compensate another for loss of life, limb, home, village?” “How do citizens of the invading nation ‘make whole’ those who have been grievously assaulted in person or in property? How do two nations citizens heal?
One of the CODEPINK delegates, Lorna VanderZanden, stepped forward to provide an answer: There are two notable instances in modern history where these types of questions have been addressed. The first that comes to mind is the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994. Horrendous crimes were committed and ignored for decades. But the wisdom of President Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu led to passage of the 1995 Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act. This truth and reconciliation commission concept was then used as the model for the second example: that of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide where 800,000, or 7 of every 10 Tutsis were murdered.
An amnesty hearing with a truth commission begins with investigations and hearings, where the victims or witnesses and the accused make statements providing full disclosure. The accused is free to make his/her case and to apologize. The commission reviews the case and passes down a decision, perhaps granting amnesty, perhaps denying it, perhaps establishing compensation to the victim or relatives.
I cannot make my government apologize for killing and maiming Pakistanis in drone attacks in Waziristan. But I can apologize, I am so very sorry for the pain and suffering that we have caused you. I speak for myself and for the delegation here today when I say that we are terribly sorry. I speak to you as representatives of the Pakistanis whose property has been destroyed, who have been maimed or killed. I don’t have the vocabulary to tell you how very sorry I am. I am sorry.