REHMAN CHISHTI – the Tory MP for Gillingham and Rainham – has been in the news recently. Courageously, he has broken ranks with the rest of his party and has called for Britain to end its use of drone strikes in Afghanistan. He has also called on the Con-Dem Government to state whether it has helped the US to target drone strikes in Pakistan. To date, the US has launched over 330 drone attacks – and have managed to kill 850 civilians in the process.
Mr. Chisti, a former adviser to the assassinated Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, claims that such civilian deaths (or ‘collaterial damage’ according to the US war machine) make it hard for Britain and the US to win ‘hearts and minds’ and only serves to make the work of radical Islamists easier.
For once the National Liberal Party agrees with a Tory. However, we would go much further than Mr. Chisti and would call for all British forces to be brought home as soon as possible.
We make this call on both ideological and practical grounds.
A US Predator drone. Able to hover over suspect sites and launch missiles, they have become one of the most important parts of the US armoury. Their use has increased sixfold over the past five years. However, in Pakistan they have killed over 300 innocent civilians.
As the National Liberal Party’s name suggests, part of our ideological root stems from nationalism. To us, nationalism means a love for one’s nation and people. It’s a desire to achieve true freedom – the freedom to have political, social and economic control over our own destiny.
However, our form of nationalism is progressive and not reactionary. Thus we extend our love for our nation and people to other nations and peoples. What is good enough for us is good enough for them. We do not appreciate others telling us how to live our lives or how to run our country. How then, must Pakistanis and Afghans feel when the US and Britain tell them how to run their internal affairs?
As progressive nationalists we are also opposed to imperialism. We have no desire to resurrect the British Empire. We are completely opposed to Britain’s current role as lap-dog to the US military war machine. And we want no part in America attempt to ‘police the world’.
On a practical level, we have no quarrel with the Arab world – especially the peoples of Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan. They should be allowed to get on with their lives – in accordance with their traditions and customs – without others dictating what they should do and say.
We are not pacifists. However, we believe that we should only fight when our interests are attacked. That’s why we say:
Troops out of Afganistan now!