Jon Boone and Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after more than four years of self-imposed exile. Photograph: Fareed Khan/AP
Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf has admitted giving permission for the CIA to launch drone attacks inside his country, directly contradicting repeated claims by the Pakistani government that it has never authorised drone strikes.
His comments in a CNN interview screened on Thursday night follow US media claims this week that Pakistani officials were for years intimately involved in the US drone campaign in the country. The unexpected admission breaks Pakistan’s policy of blanket denial of involvement. Last month following a visit to Islamabad Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said he had been given assurances that there was no “tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory”.
For its part the Obama administration has defended the legality of its drone activities and said strikes are conducted only with consent from the states involved.
Musharraf said Pakistan gave permission “only on a few occasions, when a target was absolutely isolated and [there was] no chance of collateral damage”.
He said the strikes were discussed “at the military [and] intelligence level” and cleared only if “there was no time for our own [special operations task force] and military to act. That was … maybe two or three times only”. Read More
Between the Lines
For audio, click here.
Interview with Judy Bello, Code Pink delegate and Fellowship of Reconciliation member, conducted by Scott Harris
A delegation of 31 Americans from all walks of life traveled to Pakistan in early October on a delegation organized by the group Code Pink Women for Peace, with the goal of witnessing firsthand the damage wrought by U.S. drone strikes. Delegates on the trip, coinciding with the eleventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, traveled to the federally administered tribal areas of Waziristan, the first time that the Pakistani government has admitted foreigners to the region for nearly a decade. While in Pakistan, the Americans participated in an anti-drone rally in the city of Hatala, met with Pakistanis who have been victims of U.S. drone strikes and participated in a one-day fast in memory of the estimated 450 to 800 civilians, including 160 children killed by U.S. drones since 2004.
CODEPINK anti drone rally in Tank, Pakistan from 23rd Studios on Vimeo.
CODEPINK activists travel to Tank, Pakistan, an area just outside the border to South Waziristan. Medea Benjamin addresses a crowd of people inside a tribal compound, demanding an end to US occupation of Afghanistan and the illegal US drone program. The rally, organized by CODEPINK, The Foundation for Fundamental Rights, Reprieve, and PTI, marked the end point of a two day, 10,000 person convoy of protesters starting in Islamabad, Pakistan.
For more on CODEPINK and drones visit droneswatch.org and codepink.org
Foundation for Fundamental Rights rightsadvocacy.org/
Living Under Drones livingunderdrones.org/
Emily Cataneo | Wicked Local Watertown
Courtesy Photo by Katie Falkenberg
The drones come early in the morning, when Pashtun children are out gathering firewood. They come midday, when women are cooking in kitchens in small dwellings attached to main houses.
The highly classified United States policy of targeting foreign militants with remotely fired drones has led to the deaths of numerous innocent civilians in Pakistan, according to the program’s detractors, and that’s why Lois Mastrangelo, a Watertown resident, decided to visit Pakistan this month as part of an anti-drone, pro-peace delegation.
Mastrangelo visited Pakistan from Oct. 3 through Oct. 10 as part of Code Pink, a peace group dedicated to ending US involvement in overseas wars. Mastrangelo, a member of Watertown’s Peace and Justice Task Force and a planning board member of the Boston-based United for Justice with Peace, received an email from Code Pink in April inviting her to go on the delegation. She immediately accepted.
“I had to go to say, there are Americans that think differently than our government,” said Mastrangelo. “It was a wonderful feeling, that we were bringing a different message of hope and of promise. I’m not saying that we can change policy overnight, but the people were so happy to see us.”
Pat Chaffee, reflections on the 2012 Pakistan Delegation
“We are still finding body pieces.”
“My job was to gather the body pieces after an IED explosion, trying to keep pieces on one body together.”
“My uncles were cut in pieces.”
I heard the first statement when I volunteered at the rest station set up for first responders
in St. Peter’s church near Ground Zero. The second statement I heard during an NPR interview with a marine.
I heard the third statement as I sat on the floor in the office of the Foundation for
Fundamental Rights (FFR) in Islamabad, an organization that provides legal aid for victims of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan. Shahzad Akbar, founder of FFP, had invited—or more accurately, challenged—Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war activist group CODEPINK to bring a delegation to Pakistan to meet with victims and survivors of drone attacks. Read More
Pat Chaffee, reflections on 2012 Pakistan Delegation
Azkar wanted to tell his story. He approached Paki Wieland, one of the Code Pink
peace delegates mingling with the crowd of Pakistani and international journalists in the large
hall of the Islamabad Marriot Hotel. Paki switched on her voice recorder. I drew closer to
“My young cousin,” said Azkar, “was a civil engineer. He was helping to build up our
country.” Embittered against the United States and NATO for the carnage caused by drones, he
joined the militants. Azkar’s cousin knew these people. They were his friends and neighbors.
They were teachers, mothers, masons, goatherds. “He trained for two or three years to be a
suicide bomber. He blew himself up. Such a loss for Pakistan.” Read More