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- Written by Eman Jueid
- Category: World News
Akbar has been to the United States before, and even worked with the government in cases involving terrorism.
“I have previously held consultancies with USAID, and helped the FBI investigate a terrorism case involving a Pakistani diplomat,” he says.
In May 2011, he was invited to speak at a conference at Columbia University, but has not received a visa and has received no response as to why it is being held up.
“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the US government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world,” Akbar commented.
Akbar’s relationship with the US government changed in 2010 when he took up the case of Karim Khan.
Khan’s brother and his 18-year old son were killed on New Years Eve 2009 when two missiles destroyed his family home in North Waziristan. Khan was not at home and when he was “informed over the phone of their deaths, he rushed back to find his home destroyed and his brother's family – now a widow and two-year-old son – devastated.”
Akbar says that the majority of those killed by drone attacks are civilians like Khan’s brother and son.
Khan’s brother “was a schoolteacher who had returned to their ancestral village, shortly after finishing his master's degree in English literature, because he believed education was vital for his countrymen's improvement. Khan's teenage son helped out at another government school in the area.”
Akbar believes the drone strikes are counterproductive, spreading fear and anger. He says that for every militant leader that drone strikes kill, “a more ferocious and extremist leader has emerged.”
"I think people are scared,” he said. “They’re definitely scared. I’ve seen some people, I’ve interviewed some neighbors whose next-door house was hit ... they have no other place to relocate, because a lot of them have no skills, no education, so they cannot relocate in any other part of Pakistan."
The Obama administration has launched six times as many drone strikes in Pakistan as the Bush administration, and has killed hundreds of civilians in the past few years, says Leili Kashani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“By refusing to grant Shahzad Akbar a visa to speak at the Summit, the Obama administration is further silencing discussion about the impact of its targeted killing program on people in Pakistan and around the world,” she says.By Sehar Mughal, Aslan Media Contributor
*Photo Credit: codepinkphoenix
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