PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus

Hospitality and Missiles in Pashtoon Country by peaceprobe

Two days ago I sat down with a resident from a village in Pakistan bordering Afghanistan that was attacked by a drone missile 22 days ago. A trusted friend from here  arranged for the visit and was the translator. What follows is  a largely verbatim  eye witness account of that drone missile attack. The village in question had 40 – 50 homes where between 10 and 15 people lived together in each compound.  I have not provided my commentary.  That will come in the future.

Before the Afghan war we gave hospitality to the Americans. Now we give it to the Taliban. Our custom is to provide protection for our guests. There is nothing that is more important.   

The most recent drone attack was at 4:30 am.  Everyone came to the house that was attacked then they had to be dispersed because often there is a second attack after the first one. Several missiles are used. In this attack 22 days ago there were 14 women and children killed as well as two elders.  Another 11 people were injured.  The villagers had to carry the injured five kilometres by mountain trail to a road where they would try to hire a taxi or whatever transportation might be found.  Since the army was present in the distance the man with the taxi was reluctant to carry the wounded be cause he feared that his car would be destroyed.

We are told that the drones come to hit the Taliban and Al Quida but mostly it is women and children and the local civilian population who are hurt.  Our  people want to go to Afghanistan to attack the armies of the people from abroad. All the foreign soldiers are the same. We must take revenge. 

When the attacks occur we do not have sufficient emergency response available.  The closest hospital may be 10, 20 or 40 kilometers away. And even if we can get the victims who are alive to that hospital they must be transferred to Peshawar which is another very long drive.  We use whatever we have available to cover wounds.  Often the women’s burkahs are used to cover the wounds.

The Pashtoon are a people who believe in revenge, individually and collectively when they have been unjustly attacked.  An unjust attack is one that is unfair or violates common law, custom or dishonours the tribe on the village. 

We believe in the jerga system (and respect our elders meeting in council) who discuss what we should do as revenge. But we also believe there should be an end to revenge. We see the drones on a daily basis.  Sometimes they are very high. Usually they attack at night or early in the morning.

Every time there is a missile attack from a drone our area is sealed off so that no one can come in to mourn with us and no press can tell our story. 

After the missile attack people come for prayer, mourning and to share the sorrow. Of course they come from our village but they also come from the entire surrounding area.  The rituals for the dead and the burial are carried out over three days. The story of the the disaster missile attack spreads by word of mouth throughout the region as far as Peshawar.  When people get the news they always say, we must do something.  But what can we do?  Our government is not doing a thing?  It seems helpless?  They are just helping the Americans. Our local political administration tell us that they can’t help either. Â Our local jerga (local council of elders) is helpless against drones.

Some people in our village have left Pakistan. 

Our children tell each other, we should not play together because maybe we will be attacked. They know that drones need to have groups of people in order for the missiles to be fired. So they scatter. 

People gather the casing from the missiles.   How could anyone do such a thing as this?  It took me a day and a half to travel here in order to meet you.  My people believe in revenge. We also believe there might be another way to solve this.  You must come and sit with us. But you cannot send soldiers to talk to us.  We will never trust your soldiers. The Americans have turned out to be worse than the Russians. If you come to us we can talk about another way.  Thank you for listening to our story. 





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