Remote controlled war: Pakistan seeks US explanation on drone manual

Published: January 23, 2013

In a meeting with Ambassador Olson, Khar calls for end to CIA’s controversial campaign.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked the United States to halt its highly controversial drone campaign following reports that US President Barack Obama’s administration was planning to give the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) a “free hand” to continue its remotely-controlled war in tribal regions.

The issue was raised by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in a meeting with Richard Olson, the US ambassador in Islamabad, on Tuesday, a foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune.

Foreign Minister Khar voiced her concern over reports that the CIA would step up its drone campaign in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, said the official, who wished not to be named.

She also urged Ambassador Olson to explain his government’s position on the new “playbook” for targeted killings, which would not apply to Pakistan. This, according to The Washington Post, means the CIA will continue to hunt for al Qaeda and its Taliban cohorts in the tribal regions for a year or so before the new rules become applicable to it.

According to the statistics of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,627 and 3,457 people – including between 475 and 900 civilians – have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004.

An official statement issued by the foreign ministry did not say whether or not Foreign Minister Khar raised the issue of drones with Ambassador Olson. “They discussed the overall bilateral relationship and both expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory in Pakistan-US ties,” said the statement. It added that both sides were committed to further building on the recent progress in bilateral ties on the basis of mutual respect.

They also discussed the regional situation, especially progress in the international efforts for restoring peace in Afghanistan. Ambassador Olson, according to the statement, appreciated Pakistan’s positive role and contribution to the cause of regional peace and stability.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Khar told senators in the upper house of Parliament that Pakistan has decided in principle to seek clarification from Washington over the ‘Counter-Terrorism Manual’.

“[There has been] no clarification from the US yet, but we will take up the drone issue with Washington and its ambassador to Pakistan,” Khar told lawmakers during the Senate question hour.

On Monday, Senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed and Zaffar Ali Shah asked the government to explain its position over the issue.

“If the newly-proposed law becomes operative, where would be the sovereignty of Pakistan,” Shah asked. Mushahid chimed in: “Such legislation was being prepared, which was against Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

Khar sought to address the lawmakers’ concerns. “We repeatedly raised our concerns on drone strikes. They are proving counter-productive in the war against terrorism,” she said.

A clear-cut opinion was emerging in the entire world, including the US, against drone strikes, she added. At the same time, the world is also raising concerns over the civilian casualties in drone strikes. (With additional reporting by Zahid Gishkori and Peer Muhammad)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Jan 23, 2013 - 10:41AM

    Should she ask her Army first why are they not shooting the Drones down, then after getting an appropriate answer go and ask the Americans?

    I’ve seen a piece where the Army is asked this question. NEVER! Whose responsibility is it to guard the country’s sovereignty? America’s?

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  • Realist
    Jan 23, 2013 - 10:45AM

    Just a sideshow for the public. Pakistani Govt. has always approved of drone operations. These politicians were shouting against it even when drones were operating from bases inside Pakistan.

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  • Shah
    Jan 23, 2013 - 11:46AM

    @BruteForce:

    Bhaijan..the cofidence you have will only work if you will stop taking AID from them….its so simple….till our rich wont pay taxes so that we have enough money to sustain…this will continue…
    Secondly why doesnt the President gives Army the order to shoot them down….go and read Wikileaks where the politicians accepted that THEY want drone attack….

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  • asim
    Jan 23, 2013 - 12:17PM

    Remote controlled foreign minister

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  • Jan 23, 2013 - 2:26PM

    @Shah:

    You might have thought I am a Pakistani. I am not, my friend. FYI.

    My simple question is: If a robbery takes place inside a Police station you question the Police, not the robber. Its Pakistani Army’s job to protect Pakistan from outside powers. US is firing Drones because it is being allowed to by the Army. Why question the robber, first question the Police!

    Your Army didn’t need any approval when launching all those wars, as recently in Kargil. Why does it need permission to shoot a simple drone down? Even if you shoot them down no American will die as it is pilotless! Why the hesitation? Or, is it incompetence?Recommend

  • Muhammad Rohaan Sadiq
    Jan 23, 2013 - 5:35PM

    @BruteForce:

    Although Army is a separate institution, it still works under the Government as per the constitution. It is the job of the head of the state to tell the army to shot down the drones. So, I wont agree with your comment that Army should be held responsible for this.

    And Shah is absolutely right there. For this Pakistani (corrupt) government American government is just like water is to a plant.They think that If Americans dont feed them money and support them, they will die and therefore they cant go against them.

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  • Jan 23, 2013 - 5:55PM

    @Muhammad Rohaan Sadiq:

    Are you serious!!

    Do you understand how Armies work! That too a Pakistani one?

    If there is an immediate threat from an external power, Armies have the go ahead to neutralise them. Imagine an Indian drone hovering over Lahore, would you want your Army to take Civilian permission? Because if you do the drone might have disappeared with valuable data and done much harm. This is quite strange. Even our Army doesn’t work like this.

    Pakistani Army didn’t need permission to launch Kargil, but needs it to neutralise pilotless, drones, which are killing Pakistanis?

    You people will make stuff up to defend your Army guys, don’t you!

    When Chinese planes went over disputed Islands, Japanese didn’t wait for the permission of their leaders, they mobilised. It happened only last week, please read about it.

    FYI, answer this question to know what I am talking about: Who killed Baitullah Mehsud and how? The Pakistani Army has claimed giving info for his strike.

    It looks like your guys are in with the Americans.

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  • cautious
    Jan 23, 2013 - 6:36PM

    @Muhammad Rohaan Sadiq

    It is the job of the head of the state
    to tell the army to shot down the
    drones.

    Sounds great but ignores the obvious — the Army doesn’t report to the civilian govt. The American’s know that as they called the Pakistan military first after they killed OBL (and inform them of the consequences of any military action against the Seal Team) knowing that Zardari had no ability to tell the military to stand down.

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  • Muhammad Rohaan Sadiq
    Jan 23, 2013 - 6:57PM

    @BruteForce:
    There is huge difference between India and America in this case!

    The examples your are quoting are decade old! This a different Pakistan now!

    I agree with you that Pakistani army knows every thing and they are even capable of bringing down the drones without a shadow of doubt. I too want them to hit the drones but apparently the Army is going by the constitution at the moment. If they had to do something they would have taken over the work of the current Government by now (through Martial law) but they havent done any such thing though there have been no. of instances when they could have done it.

    Also, what I feel is that Pakistan should try to stop these through dialogues first (and for that its the responsibility of the head of state to tell Americans not to do it) because there are so many internal troubles here that Pakistan will not be able to cope with a war against US at this moment. So, ideally what we need is strong leadership which can standby the Army and obviously Pakistan.

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  • Dr.A. K.Tewari
    Jan 23, 2013 - 8:54PM

    Drones are under the control of an expert international commettee of scientists operating from Nevada desert . It is an independent commettee to target those eliments who never follow the UN rules and regulation . Only fascilities and fund is being provided by the US govt. This commwttee recieves information from different sources and analyse it before fixing the target and hence there is limited chances of mistake . The work being performed by the commettee even ignoring the sovereignity of a country is not being challenged in UN by any country or being vetoed by any member of the security council . As this operation is not being done by any army therefore do not comes under any existing international law . This operation will continue till the menace of terrorism is in the region . If Pak army will do the job of Drone it is only then it’s operation will reduce .

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  • Jan 24, 2013 - 12:43AM

    Speech made by the foreign minister in the senat ,saying;
    government’s stance on the drone strikes is still unchanged and understand it open violation of the country’s sovereignty as well as global law,and that Pakistan wante to raise the matter to the state depart once again.

    In fact,
    these are mere a slogans,are not new uptil now/pakistani governement looks failed to show its credibility in this regard.

    Pakistan is going to general election,No doubt in the early stage of the election now looming the drone strikes widelly unpopular in Pakistan,it is expected that number of front line opposition parties would begin its campaign on this issue being more proactive in soppping US aggression through drones,than the party in power seen as ally of United States in the war on terror.

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  • Misa
    Jan 24, 2013 - 9:02AM

    It’s stupid to claim that Pakistan can’t oppose the drone attacks because it’s taking aid from the Americans. Pakistan isn’t getting that aid for free, it’s not even aid at all, it’s compensation for the use of Pakistani supply routes, logistical support and military facilities to wage the war in Afghanistan, paid through the outlet of the Coalition Support Funds, this is not aid at all.

    Pakistan is already doing what it needs to do in the matter of the drone attacks, its lobbying within the UN has yielded fruit and the way to solve the matter is to solve the overall conflict in Afghanistan by creating a multi-factional all-inclusive government there that would stop Afghanistan’s continually aggressive bullying against Pakistan that has historically invited and provoked Pakistani retaliation.

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  • Dr.A. K.Tewari
    Jan 24, 2013 - 10:48AM

    @Misa, well said , you are really a patriotic pakistani woman . The change in the foreign policy of Pakistan in respect to India and Afghanistan will only help your lobbying efforts at UN forum to reduce the Drone attack if not completely stoped .

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  • Ali Noor
    Jan 25, 2013 - 2:44AM

    Atleast someone is cleaning the mess. 900 civilian deaths from 2004 to date in drone strikes are an insignificant number compared to the thousands killed by the Pakistani miscreants post 9/11.

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