On October 22, 2013, Amnesty International released its report “Will I be Next?” (US Drone Strikes in Pakistan). The report, first of its kind, lashed out at the United States for alleged civilian deaths caused by its drones in Pakistan. The report according to Amnesty International “is a detailed research of 9 out of 45 drone strikes that occurred in North Wazirstan agency between January 2012 and August 2013.” Mustufa Qadri, the Amnesty International researcher in Pakistan who wrote the report told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now that “United States could stand trial for War crimes as there group found almost 19 civilian killed in only 2 of those drone attacks”. The United States, sidelining the findings and facts of the Amnesty International report, went on to defend the drone strikes with Jay Carney, the White House Spokesperson, reiterating that ” US drones are precise, accurate and lawful”.
The report brought to focus one particular case wherein a 67 years old grandmother named Mamana Bibi was killed and 7 of her grand-children injured by a US drone Strike on 24th of October 2012. The family of Mamana Bibi had been collecting okra in their farm land when a US drone shot hell-fire missiles at them. Nabila Rehman, the 9 year old grand-daughter of Mamana Bibi said that “we were collecting okra for Eid preparations when a drone hovered over us and shot at us directly. It left my grandmother into pieces and many of us injured”. Nabila Rehman with her father Rafiq ur Rehman and brother Zubair ur Rehman came to Washington DC to seek answers from the United States authorities for the killing of her grandmother. While testifying to Congress on 30th of October, Mr Rehman said that ‘ his mother was the string that holds the pearls together and since her death our family has fallen apart’. The testimony was such emotional that the translator broke down to tears in between.
Nabila stands opposite to Malala in the western media and the political circles. Malala yousufzai, the adorable young Pakistani girl who out of her bravery and idealism stood firm on her resolve for the education of girls to the extent she was almost killed by Pakistani Taliban. Her bravery is an example and inspiration for the entire world. However, unfortunately, the West saw in her a tool for their reductionist propaganda; of “we and they” or “Good guys Vs Bad guys”. They grabbed hold of her and took her to their side of the line of the political divide and with few brushes of make-over; everything that West does seemed to be right. It drones, its wars gave the impression of liberating girls like Malala from the fundamentalist clutches to the liberal world. She was used to send that “cozy” feeling that “everything is fine and what we do is write.” The West made this one girl into a celebrity to over-look upon thousands of girls like Nabila whose lives were shattered by its Wars and drones. Malala became a name that everybody knew. She was nominated for a Noble Prize. It seemed that entire world wanted to adopt Malala and in fact Jon Stewart while interviewing her on “The Daily Show” offered to adopt her.
Malala and Nabila actually stand together in idealistic rationale. Both survived the bid on their lives, Malala survived the Taliban attack while Nabila survived the drone attack. The hypocrisy of the west however remains exposed with their exploitation of Malala affair while at the same time ignoring Nabila and thousands of such children who have been the targets of brutal US policy. In fact when Nabila and her family came to give their testimony to the Congress in Capitol, out of 430 members only 5 appeared to listen to her. There are no mainstream television studios welcoming her on their shows to so she could tell her story. The reasons are evident as she demands answers from the west for the killing of her grandmother.
Nabila seeks answers to the questions which would put the West’s claims in a shaky position. She provides the other part of the story which says that “all is not actually well”. Her questions remove the cozy blanket that west likes to have on. And that is the reason nobody knows her name. Her question “What did my grandmother do wrong?” ridicule Jay Carney’s claims; because either her grandmother was killed deliberately and if so, then US drone operatives have committed war crimes and should stand trial as per the Geneva Conventions or the drones are not precise in target!
Published by Rising Kashmir on November 20, 2013