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Drone war far from over even after Obama’s promise to rein in strikes:Ex-Pakistani diplomat PDF Print E-mail
NEW YORK, May 31 (APP): A former Pakistani diplomat has urged the United States to put an end to U.S. drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas to pave the way for rebuilding the crumbling pillars of tribal authority in an effort to stabilize the restive region. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Friday, Dr. Akbar Ahmed, former High Commissioner to Britain and the Islamic Studies chair at American University, noted President Barack Obama’s pledge to scale back the strikes, but said the “drone war is alive and well in the remote corners of Pakistan where the strikes have caused the greatest and most lasting damage.” “Drone strikes like Wednesday’s, in Waziristan, are destroying already weak tribal structures and throwing communities into disarray throughout Pakistan’s tribal belt along the border with Afghanistan,” Dr. Ahmed wrote.“The chaos and rage they produce endangers the Pakistani government and fuels anti-Americanism. And the damage isn’t limited to Pakistan. Similar destruction is occurring in other traditional tribal societies like Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
The tribes on the periphery of these nations have long struggled for more autonomy from the central government, first under colonial rule and later against the modern state. The global war on terror has intensified that conflict. “These tribal societies are organized into clans defined by common descent; they maintain stability through similar structures of authority; and they have defined codes of honor revolving around hospitality to guests and revenge against enemies.”
In recent decades, Dr. Ahmed wrote, these societies have undergone huge disruptions as the traditional leadership has come under attack by violent groups like the Taliban, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia’s Al Shabab, not to mention full-scale military invasions. 
“America has deployed drones into these power vacuums, causing ferocious backlashes against central governments while destroying any positive image of the United States that may have once existed.
“American precision-guided missiles launched into Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal areas aim to eliminate what are called, with marvelous imprecision, the ‘bad guys’ ... In this context, Dr. Ahmed underscored the need for relying on the three pillars of authority that have traditionally provided stability in Pashtun tribal society: elders, religious leaders and the central government.
“Over the past few decades, these pillars have weakened. And in 2004 ... the pillars of authority began to crumble. “In the vacuum that followed,the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban, emerged.
Its first targets were tribal authorities. Approximately 400 elders have been killed in Waziristan alone, a near-decapitation of traditional society.
“Mr. Obama should not assume that his pledge to scale back the drone war will have an appreciable impact on America’s image or Pakistan’s security unless the strikes stop and the old pillars of tribal authority can gradually be rebuilt.”
 

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