In October 2012, Imran Kahn, the former Pakistani cricket star who is now a politician, led an international group of human-rights activists, including Americans from Code Pink, into Pakistan’s remote tribal areas. Their journey aimed to draw global attention to the civilian casualties caused by the CIA’s ongoing drone missile campaign in Pakistan.
Their journey was met with deterrents, including Pakistani government officials warning them that their safety would be in jeopardy. Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the US-based Code Pink campaign group, said people were prepared to risk danger to show solidarity with the people of the tribal areas. “We came here to show the people of Pakistan that there are Americans who are totally opposed to the drones and that we will try to put pressure on our government to stop this,” she said. “And we are prepared to risk our lives to do this.”
According to the activists, US drone strikes are responsible for up to eight hundred civilian casualties in recent years, including two hundred children. Conversely, as revealed in a recent study by researchers at New York University and Stanford University, only about two percent of the people killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan were actually militants.
The activists the public to know that “people there want to talk to outsiders and outsiders want to talk to them.” There are a rising number of politicians, artists, writers, and activists that are showing their disapproval for the drone program. They hypothesize that the more the public knows about the drone program and its civilian death toll, the more public opinion will turn against it.
Andrew Buncomb, “Imran Khan braves march into Pakistan’s Taliban heartland,” The Guardian, October 5, 2012, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/imran-khan-braves-march-into-pakistans-taliban-heartland-8198400.html
Alice K. Ross, “Imran Khan’s march brings global attention to CIA drone strikes,” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, October 11, 2012, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/10/11/imran-khans-march-brings-global-attention-to-cia-drone-strikes/
Student Researcher: Kyle de Leon (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)