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Thread: Pakistani people OK with drone attacks?

  1. #1
    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Arrow Pakistani people OK with drone attacks?

    The News (Pakistan) has a 'survey' of some of the tribal regions in Pakistan, and finds a reasonable amount of support for the UAV-based rocket/missile attacks.

    There's not enough detail to draw any true methodological conclusions, and there's always an issue of various types of survey biases. But this should at least give enough support to the idea of further rigorous investigation into the whole phenomenon.


    (first saw this at Danger Room...)

    The Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, a think tank of researchers and political activists from the NWFP and FATA, conducts research, surveys and collect statistics on various issues concerning the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorism and human security there. AIRRA research teams go deep inside Taliban- and Al-Qaeda-occupied areas of FATA to collect information. Most of the areas are not accessible to journalists.

    Between last November and January AIRRA sent five teams, each made up of five researchers, to the parts of FATA that are often hit by American drones, to conduct a survey of public opinion about the attacks. The team visited Wana (South Waziristan), Ladda (South Waziristan), Miranshah (North Waziristan), Razmak (North Waziristan) and Parachinar (Kurram Agency). The teams handed out 650 structured questionnaires to people in the areas. The questionnaires were in Pashto, English and Urdu. The 550 respondents (100 declined to answer) were from professions related to business, education, health and transport. Following are the questions and the responses of the people of FATA.

    -- Do you see drone attacks bringing about fear and terror in the common people? (Yes 45%, No 55%)

    -- Do you think the drones are accurate in their strikes? (Yes 52%, No 48%)

    -- Do you think anti-American feelings in the area increased due to drone attacks recently? (Yes 42%, No 58%)

    -- Should Pakistan military carry out targeted strikes at the militant organisations? (Yes 70%, No 30%)

    -- Do the militant organisations get damaged due to drone attacks? (Yes 60%, No 40%)

    A group of researchers at AIRRA draw these conclusions from the survey. The popular notion outside the Pakhtun belt that a large majority of the local population supports the Taliban movement lacks substance. The notion that anti-Americanism in the region has not increased due to drone attacks is rejected. The study supports the notion that a large majority of the people in the Pakhtun belt wants to be incorporated with the state and wants to integrate with the rest of the world.
    Brant
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    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

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  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default OK with drone attacks?

    An observer of the FATA has multiple problems with this polling exercise for example it is difficult enough to interview British Pashtun women in the UK and this polling seems to have no problem questioning them in FATA. Which undermines credibility of the polling. The observers own contacts indicate a very different reaction to the attacks.

    Similar reservations are on: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/0...anis-hear.html

    A "large pinch of salt" to be taken when using the data.

    davidbfpo

  3. #3
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    Agree about the "pinch of salt". On a different point though, it goes along with what other polling data suggests: the Taliban and AQ are rather disliked in the areas in which they operate. This is a very great vulnerability.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post While absolutely true

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Agree about the "pinch of salt". On a different point though, it goes along with what other polling data suggests: the Taliban and AQ are rather disliked in the areas in which they operate. This is a very great vulnerability.
    Dislike is rather often second string to fear so as long as a certain level of fear remains their dislikes are rather unlikely to get them off the fence. Seems like we've seen this before

    Well no doubt the Paks know, question is what or how they decide to deal with it?
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  5. #5
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Dislike is rather often second string to fear so as long as a certain level of fear remains their dislikes are rather unlikely to get them off the fence. Seems like we've seen this before

    Well no doubt the Paks know, question is what or how they decide to deal with it?
    If fear is the thing holding them back, perhaps increasing local security would be the decisive thing to do. That is easier than changing the minds of the ideologically committed.

    Judging by recent results, do the Pakistanis have any idea what to do and could they pull it off if they did? The ISI appears to know how to do insurgency, but does the army know counterinsurgency?

    I remember once getting a small lecture by a Pakistani captain in a pizza joint in Kisangani, Congo (the Hawaiian, Tom and Stan. it's still there.). I asked why the UN just didn't hunt down and destroy the FDLR and all the various Mai-Mai groups, which were mainly bandits.

    He explained to me how they had a superior understanding guerilla warfare and would proceed accordingly. I am skeptical of his assertion.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  6. #6
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Rather hard to tell what the "answer" will be

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If fear is the thing holding them back, perhaps increasing local security would be the decisive thing to do. That is easier than changing the minds of the ideologically committed.

    Judging by recent results, do the Pakistanis have any idea what to do and could they pull it off if they did? The ISI appears to know how to do insurgency, but does the army know counterinsurgency?

    I remember once getting a small lecture by a Pakistani captain in a pizza joint in Kisangani, Congo (the Hawaiian, Tom and Stan. it's still there.). I asked why the UN just didn't hunt down and destroy the FDLR and all the various Mai-Mai groups, which were mainly bandits.

    He explained to me how they had a superior understanding guerilla warfare and would proceed accordingly. I am skeptical of his assertion.
    As to what they know, one doesn't partake in creating and maintaining something without obtaining a fairly good understanding of the weaknesses inherent.

    That said it's the balance they will have to seek in how to attack it without exposing and or exaggerating the cracks in their own armor. Not an easy thing I'm afraid.

    Like the saying goes, it's easy for anyone to see a problem. Finding the solution is completely something else.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  7. #7
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Carl's questions

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Judging by recent results, do the Pakistanis have any idea what to do and could they pull it off if they did? The ISI appears to know how to do insurgency, but does the army know counterinsurgency?
    Carl,

    No and no.

    IMHO the government, however weak, appears to know 'what to do' and they could not 'pull it off' for a variey of reasons, a major one being the reluctance of the military 'to do'. The Pakistani army's focus remains India and COIN is not embedded - although a number of countries are trying to help.

    davidbfpo

  8. #8
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default

    From back in the summer of 2002:

    The words of an elderly Pakistani village leader will haunt me for the rest of my life. An element of the Pakistani military had left the relative security of the Indus river valley, and had pushed up into the fiercely independent and pro-Taliban mountain region bordering Afghanistan. A small element of U.S. personnel was accompanying them, and the team leader captured this sage observation from the village elder, “We do not like the government forces coming up into our territory, you understand, for they have no purpose here. You Americans, on the other hand, we do not mind. You are here for revenge, and revenge we understand.”

    We have misunderstood the dynamics of the populaces of this region from the outset, and our policies have reflected that misunderstanding.

    I see where recent Predator attacks have succeeded in uniting elements of the Taliban that have been at odds with each other for years. Nothing like a common enemy to bring people together.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  9. #9
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Finally in the US MSM

    The polling has now appeared in the Washington Post, a week after being here: http://realclearpolitics.blogs.time....campaign=email

    davidbfpo

  10. #10
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Terrorist training center knocked out by drone missiles

    I got a long analysis from a NYC Internet correspondent Pukhtun (Pakistani origin) MD friend since 9/11 yesterday...which article I have sent to SWJ founding editors for consideration...since SWJ published an article from him in the Dec. 2008 timeframe...

    This "long analysis" strongly suggests that use of drones to get the bad guys is supported in the main in the northern, Pukhtun areas of Paksitan.

    Of course I am a lifelong "hawK" so anytime someone says what I want to hear and want to believe, I will latch onto it!

    Factually, the leveling in the last 48 hours of a Taliban training camp with 15 or more terrorists killed in the process is viewed favorably by me. Some of the Pakistani media (press in particular) inferred or flatly lied, same old b.s., and claim drone missiles only hit and harmed "innocent civilians" which I don't believe...as my Internet connections in that area say it was what our allied sources say openly now...a hit on and the physical destruction of a terrorist training camp/site.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 03-14-2009 at 12:29 AM.

  11. #11
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Drones Dilemma: a Pakistani viewpoint

    From a SWC contributor Hamid Hussain, a commentary after being quizzed by a friend:
    It is quite a complex subject and some other folks have also asked me to write about it but I desisted so far. Overall, the subject has many angles; legal, tactical, strategic, impact on local population, civilian death toll, revenge theory etc.

    The majority of people who are against the drones have very little 'real' information. In case of Pakistan, anger, pride, nationalism, anti-Americanism etc. is the driving force behind these protests while non-Pakistani anti-war groups protest the strikes on ideological and ethical grounds. Off course, those who have lost friends and family members (innocent victims) in these strikes will be extremely angry.

    In the case of Pakistan, like any proud citizen, they resent an outsider taking the broom to their messy backyard even if has some benefits for them. It is very hard to get the 'real' point of view from the folks in the region. Fear is so pervasive especially from the militants that nobody will talk to a stranger. Only if they trust, will open their heart.

    I have discussed the subject with many during my frequent trips. There are large numbers including ordinary folks, tribal elders, those who have suffered at the hands of the militants and many Pakistan army and intelligence officers who support drone strikes but can not state it openly (after all accurate intelligence is provided by many locals on the ground to Pakistanis as well as Americans). Many tribal elders have even travelled to Kabul to urge Afghans & Americans to do more. Off course, it is only anecdotal and I cannot expand it to a level where we can say with some certainty what percentage is in favor of strikes. My guess is that overall number is probably small and limited to those who are on the front lines of the conflict and those much more informed than ordinary folks.

    Many tribal elders privately push government officials to go for the kill but publicly denounce it. Almost all parliament members from FATA as well as large number of provincial assembly members privately approve of strikes but publicly denounce it (even passing resolutions in the assembly) confusing everybody. No wonder that U.S. decision makers are scratching their heads.

    I'll give you one example; I think U.S. was very hesitant to do follow up strikes after the first one (fear of offending Muslim sentiments of targeting those who have gathered to bury the dead) even when it became clear that militants were now cordoning off the initial strike place and not allowing the locals on the scene (probably to hide the identity of the victims). It was the FATA secretariat (100% Pushtun with vast majority from tribal areas) that convinced them to go for the follow up strikes arguing that now only 100 percent bad guys were on the scene after the first strike.

    My own opinion is that it is a tool which has its value but there should be very restricted use targeting only high value targets. Taking out foot soldiers does not change anything in the big game but has many side effects especially on the fragile internal situation inside Pakistan (Pakistanis are doing some heavy lifting but in my view they are over stretched). If there are one or two strikes per month or less taking down high value targets, I think Pakistanis can keep a lid on it. However, sending half a dozen drones buzzing around and shooting Hellfire missiles every third day on low level targets is very counter-productive.

    I don't think that most of American decision makers are that dumb but anger got in the way. When relations between Pakistan and U.S. nose dived, extremely angry military and intelligence folks sent some feedback that served neither U.S. nor Pakistani interests. Large scale and frequent strikes in that time period was a very bad decision dictated by anger and clearly was not the result of a well thought out plan. If these decision-makers think the drone is the hammer in their toolbox, every problem will be viewed as a nail. We can then expect lot of debris in the neighbourhood.
    davidbfpo

  12. #12
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    How many were women and how many men in the survey?

    That will give an idea of the issue.

  13. #13
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The human (Muslim) drone: choices

    A very sharply written article by a Pakistani scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, which rightly draws attention to both American and Pakistani drones. He then asks:
    Vocal as they are about being bombed from the sky, most Pakistanis – including many on the Left – suddenly lose their voice when it comes to the human (Muslim) drone.
    On this thread's theme he has several paragraphs and concludes:
    A scientific survey of attitudes in FATA in today’s dangerous circumstances is impossible. Nevertheless, the impression one gets in talking to individuals is that tribal people with education generally favour drone strikes. This includes those who have lost relatives. But uneducated people, who form the overwhelming majority, hate them.
    He looks at the choices Pakistan faces and ends with:
    In this grim situation there is no guarantee of victory, even eventually. To prevent defeat every effective weapon – economic, social, political, and military – must be pressed into service. The use of aerial drones, terrible though it is, is a necessary evil.
    Link to article:http://www.opendemocracy.net/pervez-...heirs-and-ours

    A snapshot on the author:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot....upport-of.html
    davidbfpo

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