Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan PM Candidate Misunderstands U.S. Drone Strikes

ByAl Ho

As Pakistan’s elections are underway, it is appearing that Pakistan Muslim League (PML) candidate Nawaz Sharif is close to securing victory as Pakistan’s next Prime Minister. U.S. President Barack Obama has praised the democratic elections, calling it a “ … significant milestone in Pakistan’s democratic progress.”

However, the trail towards probable victory for Sharif been rough, as Sharif has alienated Americans by criticizing U.S. foreign policy. While campaigning, Sharif has reflected Pakistan’s widespread disapproval towards U.S. led drone strikes, claiming that drone operators are removed from killing because the strikes kill more innocent civilians than militants.

In many respects, Sharif’s concerns are not unwarranted. However, Sharif’s criticism that drone operators are far-removed from casualties is sorely-mistaken. Even if drone operators are hidden behind the highly-classified areas of the CIA, it does not mean that they do not show emotion. Whether lives are destroyed by a trigger or joystick button, warfare is hardly like a video game. Robots, such as drones, still have the potential for lethal force. Indeed, chaplains are on-site in the top-secret operator rooms to help console operators when violent encounters end in tragedy.

Several drone pilots refer to themselves as a “sniper” — as opposed to a “fighter pilot” — because they must gather carefully assess the situation on the ground prior to using lethal force. How terrorists are killed — whether by “hot-blood” (ground combat) or “cold-blood” (drone strikes) should not matter. There should not be a “more-honorable” or “less-honorable” way for the U.S. to rid itself of enemies that pose a threat to national security.