Since 2004, the CIA-led drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas have caused huge losses of life and property. Apparently, successive governments have strongly condemned this gross violation of the state's territorial integrity.

But for the first time, it has come to light that the condemnations and denials of sanctioning US drone strikes by Pakistani governments were phony and only for public consumption.

According to CNN, Former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf recently acknowledged that his “government OK'd US drone strikes…….only on a few occasions when a target was absolutely isolated and no chance of collateral damage.”

He further added: “Pakistani leaders would allow US drone strikes after discussions involving military and intelligence units and only if there was no time for our own military to act.” This report, therefore, clearly highlights that the Foreign and Defence Ministries, and also the military and intelligence units, were involved in permitting the drone attacks in Pakistan

Against this backdrop, our Foreign Ministry and Foreign Office since 2004 have protested against the strikes, describing them as a violation of Pakistan’s independence and sovereignty. In the light of Musharraf’s latest confession that everybody in the government, including the then Prime Minister, was on board on the issue, all those who were in power then owe us an immediate explanation.

According to the New America Foundation, thousand of innocent civilians, including women and children, have been killed in the drone campaign in Pakistan. Moreover, Wikileaks revealed that in a cable sent in August 2008, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson “mentioned a discussion about drones during a meeting” with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Patterson wrote: "The PM…….said that I don't care (about the drone strikes)…….We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”

Whatever maybe Musharraf’s objective behind disclosing the secrets about drones, it is the right of the people of Pakistan to know the whole truth and the lies being fed to this nation before the upcoming elections so that they can choose the right representatives. It is obvious that he has unfolded only a part of the story that may serve his purpose, while the rest, perhaps more ugly, remains hidden.

It is, however, unfortunate that Musharraf’s admission has come at a time when the nomination papers of many prospective candidates, who were part of the government when the drone attacks started, have already been cleared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

However, the ECP has rightly stated that a candidate even after wining the elections can be disqualified if credible evidence is provided that he or she does not meet the criterion laid down in Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.

The question, however is: will the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Chief Election Commissioner take notice of the drone Pandora box opened up by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf? It is quite obvious that he has no intention of sinking alone, but is determined to pull down many other stalwarts with him.

The writer is president of the Pakistan National Forum.   Email: ikramullahkhan1@yahoo.com