UK judges block action over US drone attacks in Pakistan

Published: December 21, 2012

UK high court responds to Pakistani petitioner with regard to a case against drone strikes.

LONDON: Judges on Friday blocked a legal action brought by a Pakistani man against Britain over allegations that British intelligence has been used in US drone attacks on Pakistan.

Lawyers for Noor Khan, 27, who lives in Pakistan, launched the action at the High Court in London in March after the death of his father Malik Daud Khan last year in a drone strike in North Waziristan.

They sought to challenge the lawfulness of the help Britain’s intelligence gathering agency GCHQ reportedly provides to the CIA, such as information targeting militants, which is then used in deadly drone strikes.

However, lawyers for British Foreign Secretary William Hague had urged the court to block the legal proceedings, saying the case was unarguable.

They said it raised issues relating to sovereign foreign states that cannot be determined by English courts, adding that any ruling would have a “significant” impact on British relations with the United States and Pakistan.

Lord Justice Alan Moses refused Khan premission to bring the legal challenge at the High Court on Friday.

“The real aim is to persuade this court to make a public pronouncement designed to condemn the activities of the United States in North Waziristan, as a step in persuading them to halt such activity,” he said.

The judge said lawyer Martin Chamberlain, who represented Khan in court, “knows he could not obtain permission overtly for such a purpose”.

He added: “His stimulating arguments have been an attempt to shroud that purpose in a more acceptable veil.”

The covert US attacks are unpopular in Pakistan, where the government criticises them as a violation of sovereignty, but US officials believe they are a vital weapon against militants.

According to a September 2012 US study, US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more civilians than the US has acknowledged, traumatised innocent tribesmen.

The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law called for re-evaluation of the strategy, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties was extremely low – about 2%, according to CNN.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Dec 21, 2012 - 4:46PM

    Hamid Gul and Zaid Hamid must be very worried today.


  • Najeebullah
    Dec 21, 2012 - 4:50PM

    Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul must be very worried today.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 21, 2012 - 4:56PM

    Pakistani High Courts and Supreme Court are much more powerful than English Court of UK.

    I fear what sort of juctice the English Courts may be delivering to the English people?


  • Much Amused
    Dec 21, 2012 - 5:44PM

    Bad luck it was heard by a jewish judge. Go to European court.


  • B
    Dec 21, 2012 - 5:48PM

    Noor Khan should now try it in Pakistan. The case should be bought before CJP.

    P.S. CJP has so far not opened this case against drones because it knows it will ‘open a can of worms’. These ‘worms’ would not like to be named (as in the case of Abbaotabad). I rest my case, my Lord.


  • Member Fourth Pillor..
    Dec 21, 2012 - 6:34PM

    “The real aim is to persuade this court to make a public pronouncement designed to condemn the activities of the United States in North Waziristan, as a step in persuading them to halt such activity,” Lord Justice Alan Moses said

    You will meet the same fate every where, even at the most independent “International Court of Justice.”


  • rp
    Dec 21, 2012 - 7:07PM

    drones kill all Pakistanis we dont want a country Pakistan on World map


  • Saleem
    Dec 21, 2012 - 9:42PM

    @Much Amused:
    Learn to stand on your own feet and may be the world will take some notice. The land of pure has been dependent on US aid and loans since its creation. The height of hypocrisy is biting the same hand that is feeding them. This is acountry with the lowest ratio of tax to GDP i.e. tax chor politicians, generals, bureaucrats, judges, media barons, and industrialists and they have the cheek to criticise the rest of the world.


  • Logic. Europe m
    Dec 21, 2012 - 11:00PM

    Mischief is recognised by the court If jews are so powerfull then why not turn jewish??
    People who live on charity from the west shouldnot throw tantrums


  • Michael
    Dec 25, 2012 - 2:12AM

    Judges should not be allowed to do this. Anyone has the right to bring their grievances to the attention of the court, to deny this is to admit guilt and prohibit human rights.


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