The tragic consequences of the US policy of remote targeted assassination gained a graphic narrative at Capitol Hill yesterday, as a schoolteacher from rural Pakistan - present there with his young son and daughter - described at a Congressional hearing the death of his 67-year old mother in a drone attack.
Rafiq ur Rehman; his son Zubair (13); and daughter Nabila (9) told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building that Momina Bibi, who perished on 24 October, 2012, as she worked in a field near their home in North Waziristan, was ''the string that held the pearls of our family together, and that string has been broken, and we are all lost''.
According to Zubair, his grandmother and he shared a love for the blue sky. But after she was killed on a bright sunny day just as they were making plans for Id celebrations, he had come to harbour a deep fear of 'terror from above', and preferred cloudy weather, when a drone attack was unlikely.
Among the many listeners was Alan Grayson (Democrat-Florida), who had called for the hearing.
Rehman said, ''I speak on behalf of other drone victim families as well when I say: drones are not the way. I ask Americans to treat us as equals. Justice must be delivered to those who have suffered from the unjust.''
However, Grayson said that drone strikes in Pakistan could end tomorrow if the country wanted to and that no such attacks took place without the approval of Pakistan.
According to the Democrat Congressman from Florida, he received no evidence from the Obama administration to suggest that there would be a drop in drone strikes conducted in Pakistan by the end of this year.
Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during his recent trip to the US, had talked to president Obama on the drone issue following which, the government had announced that the results of the talks would be seen shortly and that the nation would see its positive effects in the coming days, with the number of drone strikes reducing significantly by the end of this year.
Pakistan has a strong Air Force which had the power to impose a restriction on its borders whenever it chose to. According to the Congressman, such attacks were not possible without the consent of the country struck.