American peace activists delivered a letter, along with petitions from around 3,000 other US citizens, calling upon US authorities to end drone strikes in Pakistan to the US embassy in Islamabad, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
The letter, which has been signed by 26 leading American intellectuals, activists and media personalities including seminal political critic Noam Chomsky, asks US authorities to bring its drone strike policy in line with US and international law.
The peace activists who delivered the letter and petitions are in Pakistan as part of a delegation organised by the US peace organisation CodePink. The letter itself was arranged by the American group Just Foreign Policy.
According to the letter, 474 to 884 civilians, including 176 children, have been killed in US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. Citing a report by Stanford and New York universities, it says civilians in the area live in a state of constant fear.
Meeting acting US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland, Just Foreign Policy’s Policy Director Robert Naiman challenged him to respond to reports of civilian rescuers being targeted by the drone strikes and assertions by international law experts that such targeting constituted a war crime, the press release said. While Hoagland denied deliberate strikes against civilian rescuers, Naiman pointed out that even if they were not deliberately targeted, the practice of ‘follow-up’ strikes endangered the rescuers’ lives. “When Americans found out what the war in Afghanistan was, they turned against it… when they find out that the drone strike policy in Pakistan is killing and terrorising civilians and hitting civilian rescuers, they will turn against it as well,” Naiman said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2012.