Rights activists and lawyers campaigning against US drone attacks in FATA said on Wednesday that shooting down American drones is not a solution to the problem “as another dreadful technology would replace them.”
The lawyers informed that for the first time a court was approached questioning the role of government of Pakistan in these attacks.
Addressing a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club, Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) Legal Director Shahzad Akbar announced that two petitions have been filed to the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the federation of Pakistan, ministry of foreign affairs and ministry of defence. One of the petitions is filed by FFR on behalf of a large number of victims of the drone attack on a jirga in North Waziristan on March 17, 2012, while the second petition is filed by Noor Khan, the surviving son of Malik Daud Khan, the head of North Waziristan Loya Jirga who was killed along with about 50 other tribal elders in the same attack.
The Reprieve UK Founder and Director Clive Stafford Smith, Malik Zada Khan and Malik Jalal Khan and Akbar claimed that most of the people killed in drone attacks were innocent and that they were gathering details of the victims.
Akbar said that it was the first case of its kind from victims of drone attacks. He said that they have questioned what steps the government took for stopping of drone attacks, besides passing resolutions.
“We have asked the court to order the government to approach the United Nations Security Council and human rights bodies for relief from drone attacks,” Akbar said, adding that they also wanted an independent judicial commission to investigate who was falling prey to these attacks.
He said that they have asked the court to clarify what was the Pakistani government’s role in these attacks. “About 3,000 people were killed on mere suspicions,” he said.
Being a US citizen himself, Smith apologised to the tribesmen for deaths resulting from drones.
Smith said that the people campaigning against drones were not too powerful, but they were progressing in their struggle.
“If my child was killed by a predator in the English countryside, I would expect very serious and immediate consequences. A Pakistani child should enjoy the same protection,” Smith said.
He claimed that the western people wanted to help Pakistan and urged the people to come forward with evidence to pile pressure on concerned authorities.
“A vast majority of people in the US believe that the war in Afghanistan has been lost and the US cannot win it by killing people in Waziristan,” Smith said, adding that tribesmen can bring peace to their area themselves.
Malik Zada Khan, a tribal elder said that some of his relatives were killed in a drone attack. He said that drone attacks have caused widespread mental illness amongst the local population. “The fear of attacks has made tribesmen mentally sick,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.
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