This is not just because of the obvious charge of hypocrisy, although that is there too. Many of those who shout the most about casualties from U.S. drone strikes rarely condemn so loudly the many more deaths of civilians as a result of Pakistan army operations in FATA or Taliban violence. Nor are they particularly vocal in challenging Pakistan’s slowness to incorporate FATA into the political mainstream – the region continues to be run according to the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), which deprives its people of many of the rights granted to other Pakistani citizens and leaves them vulnerable to collective punishment. Few pay attention to the region’s deliberate marginalisation so that it could be used – since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 – as a deniable staging ground for the Pakistan army’s jihadi proxies – whose ideology spawned the same Taliban who are now terrorising the local population.
But the problems lie not just in hypocrisy, but in something worse; in the way in which much of the anti-drone campaign is used, sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly, to bolster a narrative inside Pakistan which runs counter to the interests of the people of FATA.
– The excellent Reuters journalist Myra MacDonald, writing about anti-drone reports last year but with an analysis that bears sharp relevance to advocacy today, from the Arabian Peninsula to South Asia.