‘Frontier Justice’ – September 1, 2004

Pakistan: The Hunt for Al Qaeda

This photo essay was originally published in Mother Jones Magazine as Frontier Justice – Writer Malcolm Garcia penned the piece that accompanied it. The work was produced with the support of SIPA Press who were my representatives back the.

The year was 2004. I post it here again to take us back in time to when the conflict – now popularly known as the Drone War, was just getting under way and the tribes in the region were beginning to face the wrath and violence of the Pakistan Army. I post it here to remind us about how the process of isolating, pressuring, demonizing and targeting an entire region began, and what the Bush administration policies looked like on the ground.

Much of course has changed in the region – one can say that it has gotten far worse, the military campaigns and repressions, the drone attacks and the growing presence of militants has completely torn this region and its society to pieces. We have no idea what is really going on inside Waziristan – journalists, human rights activists, scholars, academics or regular citizens are not allowed inside. This alone should make us wonder about what we are told, or how labels such as ‘terrorists’, or ‘Al-Qaeda’ or ‘Taliban’ are assigned, who is targeted and who is killed.

There are just too many unknowns and too many secret decisions being made that bode ill for not only Pakistani civic and democratic society, but for the American one as well.