Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 15 September 2008
The increasing missile
attacks on villages in
Imagine the government of a country sending its troops over the border to another country or sending its planes there to shoot missiles in villages, killing innocent civilians.
Such a country should surely be condemned for violating many international laws as well as being held responsible for the deaths of people of another country.
The United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council would surely join in the condemnation and prepare to take action, such as a boycott of trade of the offending country or even military action to stop the culprit.
Unfortunately there has been
no such international action when the country concerned is the
Missile attacks by the
The aim is presumably to
kill terrorists that the
However, the raids and missile attacks have killed many civilians, among them women and children.
This is now sparking outrage
It might be argued that the
However, Afghans themselves
are also victims of the careless way in which the
On 3 September US special
operations forces crossed the border from
“This was a complete botch up,” said a Pakistani diplomat. “The Americans went wild on receiving what has turned out to be very faulty intelligence.”
On 12 September, the International
Herald Tribune reported that President George W. Bush secretly approved
orders that for the first time allow the
American officials said they
On 4 September, a day after
the raid, a
On 8 September, missiles
As the attack came on the eve of the swearing in of the new Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, a senior western defence official thought this was a message sent to him by the Americans that unless Pakistan deals with militants, “the consequences will increasingly raise the cost in terms of human lives and pain for Pakistan”, according to a Financial Times article.
On 11 September, Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez, described the US ground operation of 3 September as “reckless” and said his forces would “not tolerate such incursions and will defend the country’s sovereignty at all costs.”
Meanwhile there has also
been outrage in
But the villagers themselves claim over 90 were killed, the majority women and children. This claim has been backed up by the Afghan government, human rights officials and a United Nations investigation as well as videos and images of the dead, according to an report in the International Herald Tribune.
This is the most recently publicized of repeated cases of civilian casualties in the past 6 years. “People are sick of hearing another case of civilian casualties,” said an aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai who himself condemned the strikes.
The Afghan government is asking for changes to agreements defining US military engagements in the country, including ending US raids on villages.
After the many hundreds of civilian deaths, it is about time the Afghan leaders make such demands, which are too little and maybe too late.
The “international community” (including the relevant UN agencies) should compile lists of incidents in which US and allied forces have raised or bombed villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the numbers of dead and injured, and their identities, as well as their legality or otherwise.
Those responsible should be made accountable. Compensation should be paid to the families of the victims. And such incidents should not be allowed to continue.
It is undeniable that the