Since 2004, the Pakistani people live in a continuous repeat of Sept. 11 through the use of drone strikes by the U.S. Between 2004 and July 15, 2,409 civilians were murdered in Pakistan by U.S. drone strikes alone, according to the Institute of Conflict Management.
Interestingly enough, the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law reported a total of 344 drone strikes in Pakistan from June 17, 2004 to Sept. 2, 2012: 52 ordered by the Bush administration and a ruthless 292 ordered by the Obama administration.
For President Obama to belittle these drone strikes is completely heartless. It’s hypocritical to his speech given at the American University of Cairo with deceptive rhetoric of progressing towards peaceful relations with the U.S. and the Middle East, and more importantly, it’s hypocritical to our own experiences of losing our loved ones and fellow Americans.
We often wonder the cause of the rise of anti-Western sentiments, but how can we be so imprudently naïve to the fact that the ills of our foreign policy and the continuous attacks on civilians, not terrorists, are the root of the hatred against the U.S.?
No country hates us because we are “free and prosperous.” They hate us because our government imposes our Western values on them, creates covert operations to assassinate and prop up dictators, kills innocent people and funds weapons which dictators use for violence.
They hate us because our government makes them experience the hardship that Khairullah Jan had to go through. Jan had told the researchers from Stanford and New York University his heart-wrenching story living under drones.
“I was coming from Mir Ali Bazaar going to my house. That’s when I heard a drone strike and I felt something in my heart … when all the villagers came and brought us news that my brother had been killed,” Jan said. “You feel like throwing everything away, because you feel death is near—death is so close.”
The drone strikes in Pakistan are an act of war. There is no difference between looking children in the eyes before shooting them and dropping bombs. The Pakistani people live in a war zone. They live through Sept. 11 everyday. We must acknowledge that.
I will continue to criticize the president regardless of his political party. I will speak up for people like Jan so that no one will have to lose a loved one due to a government’s cruel quest for dominance. I will speak up for the American people so that another attack on the U.S. will never be an issue. I will speak up for what America is all about: the idea to our right to life, liberty and property; the idea that the people of Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have those rights without the oppression of U.S. drones. I will speak up because it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the only thing we can do.
Sarah Harvard is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.