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A Foreign Perspective

Vote For Drones?

It’s my third week in Chicago now, and the homesickness is beginning to creep in. For someone who is loved and pampered by his wife, her absence in the last three weeks has affected me surely, but beginning to look forward to meeting her and the kids soon brings back a smile.

Last night, I watched the final presidential debate and just to sum it up in few words: it disappointed me a lot. It seemed like President Obama and his good friend, not his opponent, were talking about foreign policy. Mitt Romney seemed to agree with the majority of Obama’s actions, with hardly a few things where they differed.

If I only concentrate on Pakistan, both candidates seemed to forget that Pakistan will be going to elections in the next six months, and no matter what sort of policy you have at the moment, it is bound to change when the new government takes control.

Mitt Romney clearly gave his backing to increased drone attacks, but both the men forgot to speak a single sentence about the civilian victims that are injured and “murdered” in these attacks. Romney acknowledged that the U.S. can’t “divorce” Pakistan as it has nuclear weapons, but both the candidates forget to even mention India which is the main reason that Pakistan has kept that arsenal.

The main obstacle between India and Pakistan is the “Kashmir Conflict,” and the word “Kashmir” wasn’t even taken once in the debate. Romney acknowledged that the civilian government hardly calls the shots in Pakistan, but forgot to mention that the U.S. government still prefers negotiating with the armed forces when it comes to talks.

Pakistan has lost more than 40,000 lives since 9/11, but not hearing a single sentence to acknowledge those sacrifices hurt me. Being a newscaster, I have seen all those videos of bomb blast victims and their families, but not hearing even a mention about them in this debate hurt me more than watching those videos almost every other day.

It hurts to see that the American leaders have hardly ever given a clear picture to their voters about how their policies affected my country; how the people of this country are not told that the Pakistanis are today stuck between fire and water. If we choose to side with the Americans, we are targeted by extremist forces. And if we choose the other side, we are branded as a terrorist state.

I don’t know and I don’t care what sort of negotiations and deals are made behind closed doors between the diplomats of both the countries; all I know is that the so-called “War of Terror” has taken away lives of more than 40,000 of my countrymen. And not a single voice came out yesterday to honor those who lost their lives. For Pakistanis, be it Obama or Romney, the signal is quite clear: we will keep getting slaughtered like animals and drones will keep flying in my country without any hindrances.

My legislative assembly has also passed a bill condemning the drone attacks, but who cares? If I was a U.S. citizen and I had to vote, I would go to the polling booth, close my eyes and just put the stamp anywhere because in terms of foreign policy and drone attacks, both the candidates don’t seem to differ at all.