Jesurgislac’s Journal

January 26, 2009

You’re not allowed to kill civilians

I’m deeply impressed with everything Barack Obama has done in his first hundred hours as President.

Well, almost everything.

Obama, Biden says, is planning to “take the fight” to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region:

Against a background of widespread protests in Pakistan and Afghanistan over US operations since Obama became president, the vice-president, Joe Biden, said yesterday that US forces would be engaged in many more operations as the US takes the fight to its enemies in the region. link

The government of Pakistan has appealed to Barack Obama to halt missile strikes in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan after 22 people were killed. As they point out, killing civilians is “counter-productive” to the “war on terror” – and also, Mr President: illegal.

You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

Calling on the Obama Administration to review its policy for tackling terrorism and extremism, the Pakistan government said last night that it had already conveyed its concerns over the missile strikes to the US.

The move came a day after two missile attacks in North and South Waziristan tribal regions killed at least 22 people, including children. Up to eight suspected foreign militants were also killed in the attacks, media reports said.

These were the first missiles strikes carried out by the US-led coalition forces based in Afghanistan after Obama assumed office on January 20.

“We maintain that these attacks are counter-productive and should be discontinued. Pakistan urges the US and NATO to adopt a holistic and more effective approach to countering extremism and terrorism,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesman.

“Pakistan has consistently lodged strong protests with the US government against drone attacks, which constitute an infringement of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Yesterday’s attack in the Waziristan area which caused civilian causalities is a matter of great concern. These concerns have been conveyed to the US side,” the statement said. link

Did Obama order the air attack? Was it a holdover from the Bush administration’s policy? Who decided that the missiles should continue to fly at people’s homes in Pakistan, regardless of who they kill? The belief on the subcontinent (Times of India) is that this new attack was only the beginning: that the Obama administration would step up the missile attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, leaders complain that stepped-up missile strikes — there have been more than 30 since August — fan anti-American sentiment and undermine the government’s own efforts to counter Islamist militants.

But their protests have had few practical consequences, fueling speculation that Islamabad’s government has given tacit approval in return for political and financial support from Washington.

Obama has not commented on the missile strike policy. link

Time he did. Past time, in fact, to bring it to an end.

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