Bethlehem resident Joseph Lombardo went with an anti-war delegation to Pakistan to demonstrate against the use of drones within the United States military. He will be speaking about his experiences at an event at the Bethlehem Public Library.
continued “Our own government told us that any male between the ages of 20 to 60 is assumed to be militant and could be attacked,” said Lomobardo. The United States insists there have been no civilians casualties in Pakistan since 2008. Drone strikes in that country have increased in number dramatically since that time.
A local journalist in North Waziristan told the delegation he has recorded the deaths of 670 women alone over the past several years because of drone attacks.
“We don’t get the real story of what’s going on there,” said Lombardo. “Our government is very controlling with the media now. It’s not like in the old days when journalists were embedded with both sides, and it causes a lack of information.”
Lombardo said the majority of people he met were extremely warm and friendly. They were happy to know they were not forgotten by the citizens of the United States and wanted to learn more about the anti-war movement and those considered to be on the left side of the political spectrum.
Many Pakistanis are creating or joining progressive movements of their own, like the Labour Party of Pakistan, the Worker’s Party, Justice Party and the People’s Party. Some of the parties are merging to become more solidified. There is also a newly formed Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom chapter in Pakistan.
Lombardo’s convoy made its way to the border of Waziristan, but never made it inside. The Pakistani government placed blockades at the border, and the delegation’s hosts felt it would be better if the American members of the group turned back. Imran Khan, presidential candidate for the Justice Party, continued on with his group.
“It was unfortunate, but it was understood that the political power of this trip with our delegation had already been achieved, and therefore, the risk was not worth it at this point,” said Lombardo.