Drone strikes prove counterproductive, SC rules

Foreign ministry says they help provide recruits to terrorists

Hasnaat Malik May 09, 2019
The court cannot ask the US to stop drone strikes, says Justice Khosa. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has conveyed to the United States (US) that drone strikes help provide recruits to terrorists.

“It has been conveyed to the US in clear terms that violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is unacceptable. We have also impressed upon the US that drone strikes also give rise to anti-US sentiment in the region and help provide recruits to the terrorists,” says a statement submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood in the Supreme Court in a contempt case over the government's failure to halt drone strikes in Pakistani territory.

The statement says that Pakistan’s policy on drone strikes is clear, consistent and unequivocal.

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“We have maintained that unilateral use of drone strikes by the USA on our territory is a blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity besides being illegal and counterproductive. They are also against law and violation of basic human rights,” says the statement.

It is stated that Pakistan raised this issue bilaterally as well as at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council.

The statement further states that both at bilateral and multilateral levels, Pakistan’s concerns on the issue were noted by the international community. Even, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism visited Pakistan from March 11-13, 2013 and noted in his report to the UN General Assembly that the continued use of remotely piloted aircraft amounted to violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

About the issue of compensation to the victims of drone attacks, the foreign ministry said that this matter can only be adjudicated by the International Criminal Court.

It is also said that there is no collective understanding and agreement among the international community on the issue of drones, adding that in the absence of legal consensus on the issue of drones, Pakistan’s efforts are geared toward generating debate at international level with a view to building consensus on the issue of drones.

Likewise, the foreign ministry says that matters related to defence and foreign affairs are not justiciable.

Meanwhile, the three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, on Thursday dismissed a plea for stopping drone attacks.

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In May 2013, the Peshawar High Court had passed directions to the federal government for taking steps to stop drones. However, in December 2014, the PHC division bench dismissed contempt plea in the same matter. Later, the petition had been filed in the SC by Raja Saad Sultan challenging the decision of the division bench of PHC.

During the hearing on Thursday, the bench noted that it was not the job of the judiciary to stop drones, adding that such policy matters were prerogative of the executive.

The court noted that the ministries of interior and foreign affairs could take up the matter with the US.




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