Amjad Khan cradled the body of Ghotai, his three year old daughter. Ghotai had no apparent injuries. Her smooth sun browned skin was unmarked. Her clothes still smelt of soap from being washed in the nearby stream. Amjad held her close to him. Only the smell in the air disclosed the horror. That came on the faint breeze, from the two roomed farm building she was lying downwind of.
Her mother lay in the ashes of the farm, burnt and unrecognisable, and it was the smell of burnt and burning flesh that Amjad could smell.
Amjad had been tending his goats a couple of hundred yards away when he had first become aware of the bird circling idly above him. By the time he realised the bird was a drone, it was too late.
The operator of the drone, a Predator from a US base deep in Afghanistan, was at that moment checking the screen in the ground control station in front of her. In particular she was checking the layout of the isolated building against the hideouts of known Al-Qaeda members.
Two second later, the Predator fired one of its two Hellfire missiles.
Two second after that, she realised she had made a mistake.
Two second after that, the 20lb warhead exploded.
Designed originally to destroy heavily armoured tanks, Amjad's wife had no warning. No premonition. No pain. Just immediate oblivion.
The blast threw Amjad to the ground. That, and his distance from the centre of the blast, was what saved him. The shrapnel passed safely over him, leaving him with little more than a few cuts and bruises.
His daughter was not so lucky. She was nearer the blast. It's true she was saved from injury by the large rock, in the shadow of which she'd been playing. But whilst she was protected from the fragments of the rocket and the fragments of her home, and the fragments of her mother, that were flying past her and over her, she was not protected from the blast.
The air blast from the building passed over her so fast that it took her breath away. She tried to breath but there was nothing there. In truth, she may have lived if that blast had been the end of it, but it had just been the beginning. The end came with its return. The outward blast created a vacuum where her home had once stood, and once the outward blast had done its worst, it returned to fill the void with greater speed than that with which it had left.
The blast quite simply had taken Ghoti's breath away, and she had died as a result.
Amjad grieved for his wife, but he and his wife had been the present. His daughter had been the future. Ghoti, 'bud' in Pashto, had not yet flowered. Her future was ahead of her. Now that future had gone. Taken away. Violently stolen.
Up till then he had given no thought to politics. His family had been his only concern. His family, and his farm just East of Kaga on the Northern Pakistan border, had been his life. It mattered not to him who ruled in Islamabad or Kabul. He had no interest in politics. He couldn't even tell you the names of the people who ruled the countries on each side of the border close to which his farm was placed. The place where he'd grown up and got married. The place where his daughter had been born. The only place he'd ever known. Nothing had mattered except his family and his farm, but now his whole life lay in ruins around him. His future was laying in his arms. Dead.
At that moment, Amjad Khan vowed his revenge.
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