Should US drone operators and the officers responsible for them be concerned by the latest sentiments from the Pakistani Ministry of Defence? The head of the Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, made the most pointed remarks yet that the defence forces are not pleased.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Air Tech Conference and Techno Show in Islamabad on Thursday, Aman seemed spiky and unequivocal. “We will protect the sovereignty of the country at any cost.”
That protection entailed a prohibition against the drones from any state operating in Pakistani airspace. “We will not allow anyone to violate our airspace. I have ordered the PAF to shoot down drones, including those of the US, if they enter our airspace, violating the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The upshot of his comment was one of competition rather than any new found moral fancy: the US, having monopolised drone warfare in the region, needed to be encouraged to pull out of it. Pakistani authorities, long lagging and ambivalent in the subject and the application of such force, has decided to pitch in with its own variant of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Outsourcing killing, notably when it involves almost three thousand civilian deaths since 2004 from 429 drone strikes (the figures come from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism), doesn’t look good for the image, as tarnished as the one Islamabad’s is.
The other context of this supposedly new…