Friday, March 1, 2013

My visits to Pakistan and Kurdistan

by JoAnne Lingle

I will be a participant in Code Pink's delegation to Pakistan October 3-10. The delegation is a humanitarian mission to meet with victims and families of victims of drone* strikes.

After the International Drone Summit sponsored by CodePink in DC last April, we were invited by our friends in Pakistan to organize a Peace Delegation to Pakistan. As citizen diplomats from the United States, the delegation will join a peace march with survivors of U.S. drone attacks, major political figures, and thousands of Pakistanis to call for an end to the drone warfare killing.

On the Peace March, we will be traveling from Islamabad to the tribal areas of the capital of Waziristan, Miramshah, a 200 mile trip, the areas hit by drone strikes. We are willing to take the risks involved in traveling to this region. As the political situation is constantly changing, we will be flexible and ready to follow the lead of our hosts on the ground.

We will be closely monitored by Pakistani intelligence agencies to watch what we are doing. And the CIA, directly and through their contractors. No political party would be against us; on the contrary they all welcome us. And, we will be working with the most popular person in Pakistan right now: Imran Khan.

We want to reach out to the people there to show that we care about their lives; we want to show the American public how civilians are being targeted by drones; we want to come back to the US and tell the stories of drone victims. Our larger goal is to stop the drone strikes.

We will be working with PTI, which is the political party of Imran Khan, other anti-war groups with large networks in Waziristan and the surrounding area, the legal group called the Foundation for Fundamental Rights and the local Pakistani chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Our itinerary will look something like this:

October 3-4: Arrive in Islamabad, orientation, meetings
> See: Day 1 in Pakistan: Report from Code Pink Delegation
> See: Day Two in Pakistan: October 4 Press Conference

October 5: Rally in Islamabad
> See: Day Three in Pakistan: October 5, Preparing to March

October 6: Leave for Waziristan

October 7: Peace March
> See: Days Four/Five in Pakistan: To the Tribal Areas!

October 8: Return to Islamabad
>See: Day Six in Pakistan: October 8 - Day after the Peace March
>See: Day Seven in Pakistan: October 9 - Day of Fasting to remember the Children killed by Drone Attacks

October 9: Visits/meetings
>See: Day Eight in Pakistan: Our Final Day - Farewell Islamabad!

October 10: Visits/meetings
October 11: Delegation leaves

However, a few friends and I will stay for 4-5 days after the delegation, visiting Lahore, Kashmir and other places deemed somewhat safe.

From Islamabad, I fly to Sulaimaniya, Kurdistan in N. Iraq to work with CPT until November 18. I’ll be home just in time for Thanksgiving!

If anyone would like to be added to my email list, you can contact me at jalingle [at]

With hope for a more peaceful world,


*Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) have become the signature weapons of the Obama administration’s air strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Drones scout over the two countries launching Hellfire missiles into the region many times missing their intended targets, resulting in the deaths of many innocent people including children.

* * * * *

Read more about JoAnne Lingle's protest activity against drones and other antiwar activity:

Indianapolis: Hoosiers Protest Raytheon Role in Drone Killings

Dan Carpenter in Indystar, Warring with the stars - "[T]he Indiana Drone Project ... holds demonstrations and talks accompanied by a scale model of the remote-control aircraft used to kill people thousands of miles away whom the Pentagon and President Barack Obama have labeled as threats. How do they know, sitting at a console in New York and lining up a village gathering in Pakistan, that it's bad guys they're taking out? They don't, say critics, including human rights groups, government officials and residents of targeted areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. They tell of killings and maimings of dozens of non-militants, children among them, a collateral toll the U.S. says it tries to minimize."

Dan Carpenter in Indystar, Often busted, ever free - "A 74-year-old grandmother from Indianapolis was in the gallery when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta began his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee regarding the Obama administration's plan to pull troops out of Iraq by year's end . . . ."

Related posts

Our first meeting was with Shahzad Akbar and his team from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR), our host organization. Shahzad gave a general orientation about the people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and how drones endanger U.S. National Security.

(See Day 1 in Pakistan: Report from Code Pink Delegation )

Kareem said, "We are not Taliban, Al Quaeda or terrorists. Our culture, education, everything is disturbed. Many have left for other cities. They should arrest the criminals, not kill seven civilians for every militant. When 40 elders were killed by drone strikes during a jirga (a decision making body) in Datta Khel, March 17, 2011, the fire lasted one week. To this day, U.S. officials insist that all those killed were militants."

(See Day Two in Pakistan: October 4 Press Conference )

Jennifer brought seven drone victims from Waziristan to tell their stories. We listened as we heard about their every day terror - how collaborators put chips on door steps to mark victims, causing distrust in communities. Because drones usually attack groups of people, Waziris are afraid to go to funerals and weddings. Most family compounds consist of 60-70 people so when a drone hits, many are killed.

(See Day Three in Pakistan: October 5, Preparing to March )

All along the road we traveled, people were lined up with banners that said "Welcome" and "No Drones" in English. It was apparent people knew who were in the buses. Rallys were held at every town and bus stop. Traffic was jammed, often causing us to be at a stand still and turning the 6 hr journey into 13 hrs with only two restroom stops.

(See Days Four/Five in Pakistan: To the Tribal Areas! )

Although we were disappointed to have been prevented by the Pakistani government from going into the Tribal Areas of Waziristan, we were heartened to hear the drone issue had been pushed forward by the Peace March. As one Pakistani woman said to us, "Your coming to Pakistan has touched so many hearts that you cannot even imagine! You were able to do what hundreds of millions of dollars spent by USAID in TV ads to win hearts and minds in Pakistan has failed to achieve!"

(See Day Six in Pakistan: October 8 - Day after the Peace March )

We scurried to cover the Gazebo with our signs of "No Drones", "When Drones Fly, Children Die" and "Code Pink Delegation for Peace". It wasn't long before a crowd gathered and we began to have conversations with lots of people. Some even began to fast with us.

(See Day Seven in Pakistan: October 9 - Day of Fasting to remember the Children killed by Drone Attacks )

How could we possibly forget the people we met who had lost so much - those who were putting themselves at risk by telling us their stories. And how could we forget this message one of our delegates received, "And thank you. Every Pashtun in Pakistan loves you for standing with us in solidarity. When we have been pretty much forsaken by our own government. I had relatives that saw your peace march through DI khan, and it brought us hope for the first time in many years of insanity."

(See Day Eight in Pakistan: Our Final Day - Farewell Islamabad! )


  1. Salute to you and your colleagues! Hope your visit and the Peace March can draw attention to violations of rights and deaths of innocent citizens.

  2. Welcome Ma'am to Pakistan, we look forward to your great cause of helping the innocent peoples being killed in drone strikes.

  3. We, the natives of Pakistan's tribal areas (that you intend to visit), welcome you to our heartland Waziristan, alongwith our brave leader Imran Khan.
    See you in the 1st week of October.
    Stay blessed.

  4. I salute to ur courage and wishing you and all others performing in this march a very best of luck and safe time.

  5. Good witnessing in Pakistan! A job swell done!
    Dave in Indiana