• Dear Pakistan: Thanks For (Yet Again) Debunking the Anti-Drone War “Rationale”

    Hitler Leaving Jail
    Hitler Leaving Jail

    Endorsing the US drone war (reluctantly as that may have been) has gotten me into trouble with my (mostly politically liberal) fellow atheists time and again; and yet, every time I think I’ve had enough of the subject and I’m ready to move along, some outrageous new example of the insanity that rules much of the Islamic world reminds me the world (and not just the US) still needs these flying, firing machines.

    And this is just the most recent example of the mix of corruption, complicity and ineptitude that has left the rest of the world no choice but to intervene in this way:

    [Zakiur-Rehman] Lakhvi, 55, was born in the Okara district of Punjab – which is also the native district of Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman in the Mumbai attacks who was taken alive by the Indian security forces.

    In 1990, he joined Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH), a Salafist movement funded by sources in the Middle East. Later he became a member of LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba], JAH’s armed militant offshoot.

    He is said to be a close relative of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, LeT’s founder and current chief of Jamatud Dawa (JuD), an Islamic charity Mr Saeed founded when the Pakistani government banned LeT after the 2001 attack on Indian parliament.

    Many believe JuD is the civilian face of LeT.

    Pakistan arrested Lakhvi on 7 December 2008, four days after he was named by Indian officials as one of the major suspects behind the November 2008 attacks.

    More than 160 people were killed when 10 gunmen carried out assaults on two luxury hotels, a train station, a hospital, a Jewish cultural centre and some other targets in Mumbai.

    He was reportedly arrested from a training camp for LeT, which is said to have been fighting the Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    Six years later, he hit the headlines again when an anti-terrorism court trying him for the Mumbai killings ordered his release on bail, and in April 2015 he walked free from prison.

    But, while Lakhvi’s release has been condemned elsewhere in the world, operationally for the militants it doesn’t seem to have been but a cosmetic change:

    While Pakistan’s government claimed that it was cracking down on terrorists, Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi and six of his comrades in Rawalpindi’s sprawling Adyala Jail had several rooms next to the jailer’s office at their disposal.

    And with the jailer’s permission, they had a television, mobile phones and access to the internet, as well as dozens of visitors a day.

    “He [Lakhvi] can receive any number of guests, any time of day or night, seven days a week,” said one jail official while the terror suspect was under lock and key.

    No special permission was required for visitors, who were not even asked to identify themselves to jail authorities.

    This would be unthinkable anywhere else in the world, but elements of the Pakistani establishment are known to have provided such facilities to jailed militant commanders whom they think they may need in future.

    Throughout Lakhvi’s time in jail, he is said to have maintained operational command of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed by India for the Mumbai attacks.

    During more than five years in prison, Lakhvi’s uninterrupted access to guests, mobile phone and the internet kept him in effective contact with the LeT rank and file.

    A jail official said that even though, since his arrest, the day to day affairs of LeT are being looked after by an acting chief known as Ahmed, Lakhvi remained the group’s operational chief.

    One official said that Lakhvi, during his imprisonment, received “about 100 visitors every day”.

    “They are escorted to his private quarters where they can meet him without the watch of jail guards, and can stay for as long as they like.”

    It is also noteworthy how even this farce of an imprisonment could not last:

    Lakhvi and six others were indicted for the Mumbai attacks in Pakistan on the basis of evidence provided by the Indian government.

    The evidence included a confession by Ajmal Kasab and some satellite phone data the Indians recovered from a boat that the attackers had hijacked en route from the Pakistani coastal city of Karachi to Mumbai.

    Indian officials at the time said Lakhvi had spoken to the attackers during their journey, and may have been in touch during the attacks. They said Kasab identified Lakhvi and said he helped “indoctrinate all the attackers”.

    Many believe Pakistan initially arrested Lakhvi only because Kasab’s evidence was so damning.

    But once the storm had blown over, analysts say, the Pakistani authorities reverted to their original policy of treating LeT as an ally.

    Which is precisely why Western drones are needed to rein in the LeT. The Pakistani government is simply not up to the job.

    LeT's handiwork
    LeT’s handiwork

     

    Category: Secularism

    Article by: No Such Thing As Blasphemy

    I was raised in the Islamic world. By accident of history, the plague that is entanglement of religion and government affects most Muslim majority nations a lot worse the many Christian majority (or post-Christian majority) nations. Hence, I am quite familiar with this plague. I started doubting the faith I was raised in during my teen years. After becoming familiar with the works of enlightenment philosophers, I identified myself as a deist. But it was not until a long time later, after I learned about evolutionary science, that I came to identify myself as an atheist. And only then, I came to know the religious right in the US. No need to say, that made me much more passionate about what I believe in and what I stand for. Read more...
    • kraut2

      How often does one hammer home that airstrikes, and especially drone strikes are no surgical strikes. Is it really so hard to read the stats? Where is your “following the evidence?

      “However, the evidence from the most sustained campaign to rely on drone strikes to deter and punish insurgent organizations in Pakistan suggests this technology has limited capacity to achieve these objectives. Insurgencies are adaptive organizations, and may change their behavior in response to drone strikes in ways that render the strikes ineffective or even counterproductive. It is also very difficult to gain accurate intelligence on insurgent movements, especially when the United States does not have personnel on the ground in sufficient numbers to collect and place useful human intelligence in the appropriate context, which may lead to drone strikes that do little harm to their intended targets”
      No, not from some bleeding heart liberal rag:
      http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1167.pdf

      or this:
      “Nonetheless, the plausible exogeneity of the week-to-week timing and location of drone strikes, as discussed earlier, suggests that these findings can be plausibly interpreted as causal. Still, despite the econometric techniques used to mitigateselection bias in our analysis, caution in inferring causality is necessary due to the possibility of selection bias, which is inherent in any observational study.
      http://www.patrickjohnston.info/materials/drones.pdf

      or this:
      http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147
      http://www.newsweek.com/only-12-pakistani-drone-strike-victims-identified-militants-278080?piano_t=1

      They might be part of a strategy if supported by really good intelligence on the ground. However, the kill ratio civilians to combatants do not support the contention that such intelligence is effective.

      There is also evidence of further radicalization through non surgical strikes:

      “What is getting overlooked in the debate is that drone strikes are
      infuriating the more moderate and liberal segments of Pakistani society,
      those who have traditionally been more sympathetic toward the United
      States.”
      http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/02/07-drones-anti-americanism-pakistan-afzal
      or this:
      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/02/us-drone-strikes-pakistan-terrorists
      or this:
      http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/14/world/asia/pakistan-swat-valley-school/
      or this:
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/al-qaeda-in-yemen/study-suggests-yemen-strikes-are-radicalizing-population/
      I hope you are able to reassess your stance towards drone strikes and view their utility more realistically and critically

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        Oh, that crap again? I’m sorry, I don’t feel like responding to all that, I’ve done so a million times before. Which I am sure you have seen already, but for anyone else that maybe reading this, all they have to do is a search of my blog on the subject using words such drone, Pakistan etc and they’ll find my answers to those criticisms.

        • kraut2

          Thanks for so clearly pointing out that evidence contrary to your perception is nothing to be considered and just crap, and that you are not interested in discussion.
          I will no further trouble myself and you with any postings.

          • NoCrossNoCrescent

            Thank you for reminding me of debating creationists, who flood you with a ton of links, despite the fact that in the past you have brought up every single point they are raising and have discussed them in detail. It is not like I haven’t been discussing issues of civilian casualties or Pakistani public opinion on this blog for freaking YEARS now-and you know that for a fact because you have commented on those posts, but you have to squeeze every single one of those topics in one comment, and I guess expecting me to respond to all them at once?
            Speaking of your past behavior-it is not the first time you tell me you’re not going to come back, either-but whether you keep your word this time or not is of no interest to me.

    • nicky

      No posts for 5 months?

    • nicky

      Sorry , 17 months. Are you still alive?