If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably heard about the #NotABugSplat campaign by now. It’s a giant art installation in KP that is protesting drone strikes by displaying giant photographs of children’s faces so that drone operators will see them and realise that their targets are human beings and not ‘bug splats’. It’s a fairly clever idea, but there’s only one problem. There are no drones.
There hasn’t been a drone strike in over 100 days. No Pakistanis, innocent or otherwise, are being killed by drones. Meanwhile, there have been over 300 terrorist attacks in Pakistan so far this year that have killed hundreds of innocents.
#NotABugSplat campaign is impressive both in its clever way of drawing attention and its sophisticated use of social media to increase attention to the issue. However, that’s really the only point of it. All the giant photographs of innocent faces are purely for news cameras, not for drone operators. It’s a media sideshow that distracts us from the real cause of our problems. It’s great PR for PTI, but it does nothing to make Pakistan safer.
After tens of thousands of deaths and Taliban’s refusal to accept offers of peace talks, national consensus is finally beginning to come around on the need for defensive operations against militants. As these discussions are ongoing and the military begins to outline its plans for operations, it is also time to re-think our position on drones.
Say what you will about Imran Khan, but at least he is consistent. The PTI chief opposes American drone strikes, but he opposes Pakistan Army operations also. Unfortunately, Kaptaan’s policy is based in the wishful thinking that the national defence can always be maintained without any civilian deaths. This is a fantasy, not a reality, and national defence requires facing the reality.
Recent statements of Jamaat-i-Islami amir Munawar Hassan that Pakistani soldiers are not martyrs if they die battling jihadi terrorists resulted in outrage as is expected by any sane person who recognises the sacrifice of our brave soldiers. Unfortunately, this is not the only insult that our soliders are facing such as the treatment of their sacrifice by media.
In May, national elections were held and people elected a government. In democracies, elections are supposed to have consequences. When a party wins a mandate from the people, they are given the right to enact the policies they believe are in the best interest of the nation. In Pakistan, however, we have a topsy-turvy situation in which an opposition party is dictating policy and, in doing so, undermining the very democracy that so many have sacrificed to obtain.