One might argue that this is probably not a new thing and that if the person is from a tribal region of a supposedly “terrorist” country then his opinion doesn’t count.
First of all, the man is not a militant. He has a family, is a civilian and is as much a Pakistani as Sharmeen Obaid. And secondly, despite of having absolutely nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Jalal Manzar Khail has to live in a house with predator drones looming over his head.
It must be way more horrifying than it sounds.
But what’s more horrifying is exactly what happened in Datta Khel, a town near Jalal’s village when two “civilian” groups had come together to solve a local dispute and they got attacked by a ‘signature’ drone strike.
These ‘signature drone strikes’ target people that are not identified but merely “fit in” with the signature (style) of a militant. It’s sickening and inhuman!
Jalal Manzar Khail was in his home that day and witnessed the strike while standing helplessly, trying to reach his walkie talkie to call for help but all in vain. There was nothing much he could do to stop the strike as drones do not hear anything (well, neither does the CIA).
There was only one thing left for Jalal Manzar Khail to do and it was even more painful than what he had then witnessed; he had to pick up the body parts of the people who were in the assembly. The dead also included four of his cousins.
This incident occurred almost two years ago in March. No imagine how the civilians in Waziristan, including Jalal Manzar Khail, must’ve felt when Obama said in May this year in his “major” national security speech that conflict with al-Qaeda invites tragedy and acknowledged that drones can make “mistakes”.
It goes without saying that they must’ve felt awful. To lose loved ones who are hiding from insurgents themselves is unimaginable for people like us. Living with constant fear of death is never acceptable. But people like Jalal Manzar Khail are living that fear each and every, literally, second of their lives and all Obama can say is that the situation will be tackled with strong action.
Jalal doesn’t believe a word from Obama and we can’t really blame him because when his 6-year-old son asks his father to spend the night in a tree instead of their home because of a looming drone, we just can’t blame him. After all, this is just one story out of hundreds that made it to a documentary. The untold are as painful and haunting as this one, or maybe worse.