Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who will account and pay for the millions killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?

Now that Osama is dead and Obama’s re-election is in the bag, could we please move on? I hate to rain on the president’s victory parade and dampen the endless celebrations in America but the departure of one long isolated and ailing figure changes nothing.

In the words of Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online, “all that really happened in Pakistan is that a small group of American soldiers shot and killed an ageing, sickly man in a mansion, who was the nominal head of a small and increasingly fractured terrorist organization.”

Of course, Bin Laden was no saint and may very well have been guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, including the 9/11 outrage. But even Bin Laden, much reviled and hated as he was, deserved a day in the court to explain himself, didn’t he? How do we know for sure he’s the one who ordered the 9/11 attack. Even the FBI admits there’s no proof linking him to 9/11. Where’s the body of evidence?

Besides, even Nazi mass murderers like Hermann Goring, Rudolf Hess and Martin Bormann, responsible for sending millions to their death during the World War II, were penalized only after elaborate, and transparent, trials by a UN war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. Adolf Otto Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Jewish Holocaust, who was captured much later in 1960 by Israel’s Mossad in Argentina, received a fair trial before being hanged in 1962.

I really hate to bat for someone who in his zeal to avenge the Western crimes against the Arabs and Muslims may have ended up targeting hundreds of innocent people, most of them his fellow believers. But there’s something called the due process. Every criminal and accused — even the terrorists — is innocent until proven guilty.

This is the principle that is at the heart of international justice system and no one is an exception, not even the superpower. Following the release of thousands of incriminating US government cables by the WikiLeaks, Bin Laden had declared: “We are a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate.”

But law-abiding nations do not go to war over flimsy excuses or send armed commandos to invade a foreign country and blow up the brains of an unarmed man in front of his 12-year-old daughter and dump his body into the ocean.

In doing so, Uncle Sam has once again acted as the prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner all rolled into one. Not very different from the Texan-style justice celebrated in numerous Hollywood westerns. Might is right. The old jungle law still holds good and the powerful can do whatever they want.

Nearly 2,800 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Doubtless a heinous atrocity and crime against humanity for which the perpetrators deserve nothing but severest punishment. What about all those innocents though who were killed — and continue to be killed — as a direct consequence of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? More than a million people have perished in Iraq alone and hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past 10 years. Who will account and pay for them?

Pakistan has been the real victim of America’s decade-long disastrous campaign. Its once healthy economy is bankrupt; its institutions are falling apart and its complex religious and ethnic mosaic of society is unraveling fast. The country has been in a free fall since it was forced to join the US war.

It has lost nearly 40,000 people, including 7,000 military personnel, to this conflict. In fact, as early as 2009, Pakistan’s toll — 12,000 deaths — had exceeded that of Afghanistan. Last year, nearly 10,000 people were killed as a result of US drone strikes and reprisal attacks by militants.

Despite continuing demonstrations and perfunctory protests by politicians, the pilotless drones continue to hit Pakistan almost on a daily basis, feeding the growing groundswell of anger against America. Last year witnessed 111 drone attacks mostly targeting civilians. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says at least 957 victims of drone strikes in 2010 were innocent civilians.

I wonder if the Americans, who burst out on the streets to celebrate the killing of Bin Laden last week, really know what their government has been doing in their name around the world? If yes, do they care? How would they react if some unmanned planes sent by another country were to come raining death and destruction over their cities and towns?
Aijaz Zaka Syed in Arab News. More Here

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...