Friday, August 3, 2012

US Drone Attacks in Pakistan Violate Sovereignty, Weakening Democracy: Diplomat

Published on Friday, August 3, 2012 by Common Dreams

US Drone Attacks in Pakistan Violate Sovereignty, Weakening Democracy: Diplomat

Ambassador Wajid Shamsul Hasan says US prefers to deal with dictators, not democratic institutions

- Common Dreams staff

In an interview with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, one of Islamabad’s most senior diplomats says that ongoing CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas are weakening democracy, and risk pushing people towards, not away from, extremist groups.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan says the use of drones by the US is weakening democracy and pushing people towards extremist groups. (Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images) As High Commissioner to London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan is one of Pakistan’s top ambassadors. Now four years into his second stint in the post, Ambassador Hasan argues that US drone strikes risk significantly weakening Pakistan’s democratic institutions and that the US prefers dealing 'one man' and not 'democratic institutions' when it comes to such matters.

"What has been the whole outcome of these drone attacks is that you have directly or indirectly contributed to destabilising or undermining the democratic government. Because people really make fun of the democratic government – when you pass a resolution against drone attacks in the parliament and nothing happens. The Americans don't listen to you, and they continue to violate your territory," he said.

Despite repeated government requests and eve-growing public protest, he says, the Pakistanis are too weak to halt the US superpower. "We cannot take on the only superpower, which is all-powerful in the world at the moment. You can't take them on. We are a small country, we are ill-equipped," he said.

Mr Hasan was also scathing about what he sees as the US’s weak commitment towards democracy in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also implies there are those in the US government who would still prefer to be dealing with a dictator:

"They talk in miles in support of democracy, but they move in inches. They say, 'We are fully for democracy, we want democracy, we support the Arab Spring, we are opposed to military interference in Egypt.' All of these things are very good. They are music to my ears. But when it comes to real politics they are different. [US Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton has really supported democracy. But she is one person. There are so many pillars of power in the United States, and they act differently."

"The United States if you look at Pakistan’s 65 year history," Hasan said, "has always preferred to deal with one man rather than with institutions. They would never like a matter to go to the parliament, to be debated there, for issues to be accountable to the parliament and the people, they don’t want that, they want one man."

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