Editor’s note: Mirza Shahzad Akbar is Reprieve legal fellow in Pakistan, director and founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, and a practicing human rights lawyer in Islamabad. He represents a number of families of victims affected by drone strikes.
Islamabad (CNN) – On Tuesday, the United States votes to elect its next president. For Americans, the choice is about which candidate will improve the economy, healthcare, the employment rate and ensure better living standards.
However, for Pakistani citizens living in the country’s northwest, especially for the 800,000 people in the tribal region of Waziristan, the American election is a question of life and death.
Malik Jalal Khan lives in Datta Khel, a small town in North Waziristan, and is an elder of the Mada Khel tribe. He told me that more than 200 people from his tribe have been killed through the CIA-run clandestine drone program in the last seven years.
Thanks to Pakistani local channels which translated all three presidential debates into Urdu, Malik Jalal has paid close attention to every word uttered by President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Just like these candidates, Malik Jalal is also responsible for the wellbeing of his people. He has to ensure that his tribe’s young have stable jobs, children can go to school and sick people are treated in the best possible way. Malik Jalal listened very carefully when Obama said he would further strengthen health care, improve employment, raise taxes on the rich and improve public education. Such promises were doubled by Romney, who said that he would do even better if elected president.