Speaking against drone strikes: Pakistani lawyer denied US visa

Published: April 9, 2012

Investigation reports drone strikes kill at least 50 civilians who had gone to help victims, 20 in funerals.

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar has been invited to speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington on April 28, however, the US authorities have not provided him with a visa, said a press release by Center for Constitutional Rights.

Akbar was invited to speak at the summit as he had been providing legal aid to the victims of drone strikes in Pakistan and was the first one to file a case on behalf of the family members of civilian victims of drone strikes. He is also the co-founder of a human rights organisation called Foundation for Fundamental Rights.

According to the press release, Akbar has travelled to the US several times in the past, but has not been allowed to visit the country since he started speaking against the US drone strikes.

“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the US government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world,” Akbar said.

The organisers of the event CODEPINK, have also expressed displeasure over the US government’s decision to not allow Akbar to speak at the forum terming it as “outrageous”.

Earlier, a report found out that at least 194 people were killed in the 10 of the deadliest drone strikes in tribal areas. Of these, at least 70 per cent, 138 deaths, were of militants. The rest, 56 deaths, were of either civilians or tribal police.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • hana
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:08PM

    i really hope mr akbar gets the visa.. it’s important that people learn about the drone strikes and start a debate

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  • fahad
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:18PM

    real face of American democracy & freedom of speech

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  • naeem khan
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:04PM

    well if he is denied the visa again then he should speak to conferenlce via video link and inform the Americns anyway.Too bad the guardians of free speech are denying the free speech to those who don’t agree with their point of view.

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  • Bombay dude
    Apr 10, 2012 - 12:15AM

    I do not see any such enthusiasm from Pakistani lawyer against terrorists who have killed more of it’s citizens then the drone. That is quite understandable, because people only try to preach someone who is capable to listen, in Pakistan these lawyers will be dead for picking up any cause against terrorists. Does these lawyers take as much effort to check the plight of women, children, old and helpless people who die daily in hands of extremists ? Do these lawyers take up cause for Mumbai train bombing where a coward placed a bomb in a packed mumbai local train in ladies compartment. Just google up the picture of what happened to the compartment where bomb was placed and imagine if thats the condition of a steel made coach, what would have happened to those humans ? why does Pakistani or any Islamic country lawyer does not speak against any case of terrorism or Jihadi ideas which leads to terrorism ? I am not a big fan of drone, but when you stop respecting human lives , your life will not be valued as much as any other human. Simple as that.

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  • Harry Stone
    Apr 10, 2012 - 12:43AM

    Not many Americans pay a lot of attention to CRR. It is an extreme left wing organization well outside of the American main stream of public opinion.

    And why would America allow anyone into it nation. The comments seem to indicate there is some type of universal right of access. This is why nations have visa requirements. It is the same for PAK and America as it is for any other nation.

    But I do find it funny to read PAK comments about individual freedoms

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  • true_blue_pakistani
    Apr 10, 2012 - 3:19AM

    Why should Americans issue visa to someone who goes there to preach anti-Americanism under the guise of freedom of speech?

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  • MarkH
    Apr 10, 2012 - 3:36AM

    He’s not the only one complaining. It’s probably closer to ignoring him to spite Pakistani policies on US citizens.

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  • gp65
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:46AM

    Why do you think Visa exist? Pakistan wants to monitor very carefully which Americans get a visa to Pakistan. Why should Americans not do the same? Specifically why should they allow a person with known anti-American tendencies the chance to come to their country?

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  • Basit
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:53AM

    @Bombay dude:
    It’s like you’re asking that a rape victim should worry about the rights of the rapist rather than the rights of the rapist’s victims. Please wake up.

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  • Basit
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:55AM

    Of course the world class optics of US drones can pinpoint exactly that their targets are terrorists but they cannot pinpoint that their targets are Pakistan Army posts. Yes, very believable.

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  • Sky
    Apr 10, 2012 - 7:07AM

    Freedom of speech? Anyone…

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  • Apr 10, 2012 - 7:31AM

    Upholder of free speech and human rights, hilarious.

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  • Bombay Dude
    Apr 10, 2012 - 10:51AM

    @Basit: Just providing analogy doesn’t make you right. Rape victims do not rape themselves. So in that matter Pakistan is not a rape victim here. The drone attacks are result for Pakistan’s incapability and unwillingness to clean up it’s own house. If you have cancer in your gut then your stomach has to be cut open to remove the cancer. That is the collateral damage. And nobody likes Collateral Damage, not the Doctor who operates and certainly not the patient. That’s an analogy for you if you understand.

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  • yaz
    Apr 10, 2012 - 11:55AM

    There are some stupid comments in here. If someone is anti drone, does it also mean he/she is anti US? One can be against US government policy of using drones because it is killing civilians. Am I to understand if I am against a certain US policy I am a terrorist and I will not be given a US visa? Either don’t call yourself champions of free speech or act like one.

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  • Hit-man
    Apr 10, 2012 - 12:33PM

    More civilians are killed in aerial bombardment by Pakistan jets beside loss of property than the drones which have eliminated major terrorists and few civilians got killed. However, no eminent lawyer took up their case with the concerned establishment and also the terrorists organisations who have killed thousands of innocent people. Infact the lawyers by supporting Qadir a cold blooded killer and showering petals on him has tarnished the image of their whole community are now detested world wide.

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  • Aarvey,india
    Apr 10, 2012 - 1:07PM

    I think the USA has done what right to deny a visa. They don’t need someone from Pakistan to spread anti American venom on American soil. It’s not in their national interest.

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  • Marvi
    Apr 10, 2012 - 1:46PM

    I think Americans denied him a visa because they want to suppress a Pakistani’s right to free speech in the US. Denying him a visa is illegal and suppresses his freedom of travel.

    I also think that americans are afraid of Pakistani skill in talking and convincing people. US should apologize, give him visa and sponsor his travel and stay to show their goodwill. They should also have no restrictions or visa for travel from Pakistan.

    Pakistanis should refuse the apology to safeguard our honor.Recommend

  • Shyam
    Apr 10, 2012 - 2:16PM

    @Moise, Sky etc

    The lawyer has freedom of speech. US has not threatened/assasinated him nor issued a Fatwa against him. The lawyer’s “Freedom of Speech” is intact BUT he does not have “FREEDOM TO ENTER US SOIL”. The lawyer is free to say whatever he wants within Pakistan.

    Now was that very hard to understand

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  • Zabandraz
    Apr 10, 2012 - 3:19PM

    USA knows that drones are killing children and innocent people but they do not want their own citizens to know about their wrong doings and barbaric killings of the innocent

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  • Mohammad Assad
    Apr 10, 2012 - 3:21PM

    Quite a number of silly comments here. But that is too be expected in a country that is so polarized that it has lost the ability to define between what is right and what is wrong.

    For all those criticizing Mr Akbar, please realize that he was invited to attend a conference. He is not going there on his own to ‘spit venom’ against US. And how does criticizing US foreign policy equate to spitting venom against US in the first place? And please stop bringing in Jihadis and Mumtaz Qadri in to the discussion here….Mr Akbar is a lawyer and he filled a case supporting the victims of drone attacks…that has got nothing to do with what Mumtaz qadri did or what any other lawyer did or did not do…

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  • Truth Teller
    Apr 10, 2012 - 3:57PM

    Serves him right! Will Pakistan allow somebody who comes here to criticize ISI & Pakistan Army.

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  • Baba Ji
    Apr 10, 2012 - 4:14PM

    How many Americans would be issued with Pakistani visas to come and bash Pakistan on a forum ?
    get real people … U.S. is a country and have the right to give or reject the visa … it is we Pakistanis who issue “mass” visas to Amreeki agents in Dubai consulate !!!!
    beggars can never be choosers … wake and smell the coffee …

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  • Tony C.
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:28PM

    @Harry Stone:
    Dear Harry,
    If these extreme right wing American thugs would stop murdering innocent people Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani lawyer, would not be requesting a visa to attend the International Drone Summit. Obviously, Washington does not want Americans to hear the truth, but then this is nothing new. We are getting used to the idea of Washington riding rough-shod over people whenever they think they can get away with it. Having said that some caring people do not have to like it. You obviously do.

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  • Kirsten
    Apr 11, 2012 - 12:37AM

    He was not denied a visa. The visa has not yet been issued. That is not the same as being denied. It’s still possible (although probably unlikely) that the visa will be issued before the date of the conference. This is basic journalism. Check your facts before you publish.

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  • Apr 11, 2012 - 7:00AM

    @Shyam:
    Your argument is invalid, just Google “Wikileaks video of US military killing journalists in Iraq” & “U.S. Congressman Witnessed European Special Forces Beheading Libyans”.

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  • Sajjad Ahmed
    Apr 11, 2012 - 11:16AM

    I am quite satisfied with the decision of American embassy regarding issuance of vise to Akber. If I were visa officer I would take the same or even more harsh decision and recommend forever no entry to Akbar in US. Why are we taking aid from US & then we talk against the US. I strongly appreciate decision of US embassy

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  • Tony C.
    Apr 11, 2012 - 5:27PM

    @Sajjad Ahmed:
    Dear Sajjad Ahmed,
    You easily satisfied. It is because of people like you that arrogant ego driven personnel in authority get away with making dreadful decisions, which are totally unnecessary. There is absolutely no valid reason why Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistan lawyer, should not be allowed to visit America to attend a conference. On the contrary, he has not committed any crime and is providing Stirling service to innocent Pakistan people who have been the victims of bombing raids by a supposedly friendly power. Additionally, if the Americans are not doing anything wrong and they are attempting to help Pakistanis what is their problem? I have no doubt that Shahzad Akbar, as a lawyer, is making statements which could be construed as criticism on a professional level, but I fail to see why he should be barred from America.

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  • SWLMA
    Apr 14, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Yes, everyone just keep your head in the sand while those who do not represent the interests of the American people continue to carry out illegal wars in our name. This anti-Americanism that you talk about is felt by a good portion of the world, and there is a reason for this. Our politicians throughout history felt it was in their best interest to intervene in the politics of foreign regions on the sole behalf of their wealthy allies, plain and simple. We have a military larger than the next 14 countries combined, and yet we still continue to hear the endless slogan reiterated by our commander and chiefs: “Don’ tread on me”; we still continue to hear on how these “preemptive” wars, conducted without Congressional approval, are in the interests of national security; that having our military might occupying a foreign region is a means to keep us safer here at home. Let’s see: our government lied to us about the casualty rate of American soldiers in Vietnam and sought to cover up the illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia; our CIA has been forced by the “Freedom of Information Act” to declassify documents that reveal their involvement in the overthrow of popularly elected regimes- Iranian Coup of 1953, the overthrow of Allende in Chile, and their assistance to help seat Saddam Hussein. It’s time to give up this notion of “Hear no evil, See no evil” and call a spade when it’s a spade. America is a great nation, but it’s great because there is a limit placed on Government, which allows for freedom and prosperity for the citizenry. However, this won’t last very long if the people continue to ignore history and refuse to hold their government accountable for its actions, you know, since they indirectly represent the American people.

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  • TCO
    Apr 15, 2012 - 4:03AM

    @Kirsten:
    It hasn’t been issued for previous attempts to visit as well, which equates to a denial. If you are going to criticize the journalism, you should at least educate yourself on the topic first.

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  • Apr 15, 2012 - 4:14AM

    The United States of Aggression? Assassination? you decide. Call it ObamaKill

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