May 13, 2013
A Pakistani court has declared that US drone strikes in the country’s tribal belt are illegal and has directed the government to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.
Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who headed a two-judge bench that heard the petitions, ruled the drone strikes were illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter onhuman rights. The court said the strikes must be declared a war crime as they killed innocent people.
“The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future,” the court said, according to the Press Trust of India. It asked Pakistan’s foreign ministry to table a resolution against the American attacks in the UN.
“If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US,” the judgment said.
US officials have said the drones target al-Qa’ida and Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s tribal regions who are blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and say the operations are done with the complicity of Pakistan’s military. Activists say hundreds of civilians are killed as “collateral damage” and that there is no transparency about the operation of the drones.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party is considered frontrunner in this Saturday’s election, this week vowed that he would not tolerate drone attacks on Pakistani soil.
“Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country’s autonomy and independence,” he said.
The case was filed last year by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a legal charity based in Islamabad, on behalf of the families of victims killed in a 17 March 2011 strike on a tribal jirga.
The jirga, a traditional community dispute resolution mechanism, had been called to settle a chromite mining dispute in Datta Khel, North Waziristan. This strike killed more than 50 tribal elders, including a number of government officials. There was strong condemnation of this attack by all quarters in Pakistan including the federal government and Pakistan military.
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case, said: “This is a landmark judgment. Drone victims in Waziristan will now get some justice after a long wait. This judgment will also prove to be a test for the new government: if drone strikes continue and the government fails to act, it will run the risk of contempt of court.”?
Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based group Reprieve, which has supported the case, said: “Today’s momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA’s secret drone war.”
He added: “For the innocent people killed by U.S. drone strikes, it marks the first time they have been officially acknowledged for who they truly are - civilian victims of American war crimes.”
The US will surely veto any resolution that goes through the UN, just as it has before in the past (ahem, 41 vetoes to defend Israel)… but this case is monumental in examining the US drone war as a war crime because of the innocent civilians who have been killed, not just in Pakistan (between411-884) but in Yemen (between 99-184) & Somalia (up to 15) as well. (Note: These stats don’t include “militants,” which was redefined to include all males of military age in a strike zone, which often includes innocent civilians.)
January 6, 2013
In yet another US drone attack in Pakistan, US drones fired ten missiles at different targets in the country’s northwestern tribal area of South Waziristan, on Sunday.
According to local media, the aerial attacks left at least seven others injured.
On Thursday, 10 people were killed in similar attacks in the Sar Kanda area of Birmil in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.
Pakistan’s tribal regions are attacked by US assassination drones almost regularly, with Washington claiming that militants are the targets. However, casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims.
The killing of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington.
Last month, Pakistan’s Jama’at ud-Da’wah political group took legal action against the ongoing drone attacks. The group said despite a resolution passed by the Pakistani parliament in condemnation of the US attacks, the drone strikes continue to claim the lives of civilians.
In addition, the Lahore High Court called on the Pakistani government on November 3 to immediately respond to the group’s petition that had called for an end to US airstrikes.
Over the past months, massive demonstrations have also been held across Pakistan to condemn the United States for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.
The Thursday drone attacks included two strikes to a house in south Waziristan, two strikes to a vehicle in north Waziristan and two more missiles in the same area once rescuers arrived - known as the “double-tap” method, which is considered to be a war crime. In total, 13 people were killed.
Three people were also killed by a drone strike in Baydah on Thursday as a part of the Obama administration’s escalation of the drone war in Yemen.
January 2, 2013
Seven people were killed and several others injured in multiple US drone strikes carried out in the South and North Waziristan tribal regions on Thursday, DawnNews reported.
In the attack in South Waziristan, an unmanned drone fired two missiles at a house killing four people, locals who recovered the bodies said.
The drone continued to buzz in the skies after the attack, causing fear and panic among the area residents.
Separately, three people were killed and several others injured in a drone attack in the Mubarak Shahi village in North Waziristan tribal region’s Mir Ali Tehsil.
The US drone targeted a vehicle with two missiles, and then fired another two missiles when rescuers gathered at the site to carry the bodies and the injured.
The death toll from the drone strike in North Waziristan was expected to rise, security sources told Dawn.com.
There were reports of a key Taliban commander being targeted in the strike, sources said.
As if drone strikes on villages killing innocent people weren’t disgusting enough, the “double-tap” method of striking a second time to target rescuers is even more repulsive.
The Obama administration has also begun to escalate drone strikes in Yemen, with four strikes last week alone, rising from 18 strikes in 2011 to 53 in 2012... as those in Pakistan, Somalia & beyond continue to take lives.
It’s also important to note how the media covers drone strikes, often citing those killed as “militants,” a definition Obama changed to mean any male of military age in a strike zone.
Update: At least 13 were killed. The death toll is still expected to rise.