Given the expectations of negotiations, the drone attack that killed Waliur Rehman, may have nipped the idea in the bud. The second-in-command to the TTP top leader Hakimullah Mehsud, died in North Waziristan on Wednesday. Reports put Wali in a different category from the other Pakistani Taliban; he was not in favour of exploding bombs or suicide killings in Pakistan, although, he could not influence the policies of powerful Hakim. If that were true, his death is a great setback to peace talks expected to be launched by the new government in the centre and KPK. Others who died with him would, may have been of his persuasion. Nevertheless, Islamabad may well be bracing itself for another spate of terrorist attacks and must heighten surveillance, particularly in the sensitive areas of the country, to ensure security of the people.
This backlash apart, it bears stressing again and again, the drones violate the inherent principle of an independent state: its territorial sovereignty and integrity. It was for this reason that the Foreign Office, without even assessing the merits or demerits of the event, came out protesting that the missile strike was in violation of the country’s sovereignty and an open abuse of the human rights. Fortunately, with time and the mounting of the civilian losses, the world opinion is fast changing, leaving the superpower increasingly isolated in its stand that these attacks are legal and justified. The fact, now acknowledged by the UN, rights organisations and a growing body of political analysts, is that they are neither legal nor justified; they flagrantly disregard international law and as they stoke up vengeance swelling the ranks of militancy, they lose justification, if they had any. No doubt, the drones took out diehard terrorists like Baitullah Mehsud and several other top ranking terrorists. But, if the insurgency has shown signs of abating in this region as a consequence, as the US claims, it has taken root in other parts of the world: Yemen and Somalia, for instance, not to talk of other Middle Eastern countries. Thus, from the American perspective, militancy has gone out of hand, is not contained.
The latest drone sally has put the incoming governments at the Centre, Balochistan and KPK in a difficult position. Both the PML-N and PTI whose election mandate included the end to drones would have to jointly devise a strategy, sitting with the armed forces, to convince the Obama administration of the genuineness of their stand. Persistence in drones would greatly jeopardise the revival of Pakistan economy the both political parties want, and a friendly country must not create hurdles in achieving the goal.
Let it be clear, no one mourns Wali-Ur-Rehman. What may well be mourned, is the loss of an opportunity to negotiate an end to the violence.