Agony Abroad, Apathy at Home

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The drone war expanded immensely under the Obama administration, as the operators began practicing both “signature strikes,” where targets are chosen based on patterns of suspicious behavior and “double taps,” where multiple attacks hit the same spot within a given time period.

Through these tactics, many innocent people have been killed. One of these innocent civilians is Momina Bibi, the grandmother of Nabila Rehman.

On Oct. 24, 2012 in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, CIA-operated drones attacked Rehman and her family while they were working in a field next to their village home. All of the siblings were injured and Rehman’s grandmother was killed in front of her eyes. Rehman and her father and brother recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to give a testimony at a congressional hearing. The events of that day left them with no explanation or apology after the pain and terror they dealt with. They had arrived in the U.S. to receive answers, but were instead ignored.

Of the 435 representatives, only five attended the congressional hearing, despite the amount of effort it took for Rehman and her family to travel from their remote village to the U.S. To make matters worse, Obama did not show up either, but instead met with the CEO of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. By blatantly ignoring the voices of Rehman and her family, elected officials ignored the tragedy put upon the family, even though they were there because of our government’s actions of violence and terrorism.

During the congressional hearing, Rehman’s translator and her family broke down in tears while they told their story. For the few who showed up to listen, Rehman asked the question to receive no answer — what did her grandmother do wrong?
Rehman is just one of millions of people over the past decade whose lives have been destroyed by U.S. government actions, and she has received very little sympathy and recognition.

This can be contrasted with the situation of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who received a great deal of attention from media and political figures after she was almost assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban. Questions have surfaced asking why people who suffered injustice like Rehman are ignored by our government while Yousafzai receives so much recognition, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since Yousafzai is praised as a survivor of cruelty from the Taliban, she can easily be used by war advocates as political propaganda. Her story showcases the cruelty within the Taliban and can be seen as a reason for the U.S. government to promote its wartime agenda.

On the other hand, Rehman, a survivor of violence from the U.S. government, has had her story pushed aside because it hurts U.S. war propaganda and paints a violent picture of what our government is carrying out in Pakistan.
The U.S. representatives and Obama prove their selective memory by solely focusing on the Taliban’s violence while ignoring cries of help from innocent people who have been affected by drone attacks.

Such terrifying stories also demand U.S. voters to educate themselves on how citizens in Pakistan and other areas are being affected by our government’s intervention. We need to hold our government accountable for its actions. It is not justified for our government to ignore the millions of lives that have been hurt and destroyed by the intervention of the U.S. in order for our country to paint a heroic image of itself. To be fully educated, voters need to learn about stories like Rehman’s and Yousafzai’s and become aware of the reality of our government’s actions. U.S. voters need access to these harsh realities so we are able to assess and argue against our government’s corrupt behavior overseas.