by Brett Solomon
Local villagers are still digging through the rubble with shovels and hands looking for survivors of Monday's US bombing raids in Afghanistan, where up to 100 women, children and elders were reported killed. It's difficult right now to know the precise numbers because the bodies have been so hurriedly buried or badly mutilated.
Every time there is an incident like this in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it makes a very volatile situation worse -- pushing public sympathy towards the Taliban and weakening these fragile civilian governments.
This week's historic meeting between the Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and America was overshadowed by these deaths -- and while the US scrambles to respond, we must urgently demand an end to air strikes in civilian areas including the use of unmanned aircraft attack drones in Pakistan. Sign the urgent petition -- and then watch our new TV ad:
In both Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fight against the Taliban has escalated. Taliban fighters have seized control of areas near Islamabad, a battle rages in Bala Baluk district of Afghanistan, and a nuclear armed country that houses Al Qaeda risks becoming the world's most dangerous failed state. A joint commitment to addressing extremism is welcome, but bombing from the air with massive civilian casualties is only making things worse.
Experts across the political spectrum agree that air attacks in civilian areas, including the use of drones, is a serious error and will only lead to more casualties and volatility. Political stability is fundamental in a nuclear-armed Pakistan which many fear is already at risk of collapse. Indiscriminate bombing raids in Afghanistan threaten to undo much of the good words and detailed work that is already underway in the region.
In March, President Obama announced a break with the past in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a greater emphasis on development aid and dialogue. Unfortunately, the Administration did not use this week's meeting to curtail President Bush's policy of air attacks or strike drones. With this latest tragedy, sign the petition calling for an urgent change in US policy:
In his speech President Obama stated that the U.S. “will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that serve the promise of a new day for their people.” Such relationships are harmed by the use of bombing raids and strike drones. While addressing the immediate security concerns, a new way forward must move away from a blunt military solution and focus on economic development, political dialogue and social cohesion. Please join us in urging the US government to stop the escalation of these air attacks.
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