The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday, told the Lahore High Court (LHC) that even though the main focus of the US drone attacks was to target terrorists in federally administered tribal area of Pakistan, these strikes were in violation of the country’s sovereignty.
In a written reply submitted before Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the ministry said the government had consistently lodged protests with the US government regarding collateral damage and the violation of sovereignty committed by these attacks.
It said the parliament had also been denouncing these attacks which had been conveyed to the US government. Senior officials of the US embassy including the ambassador have been summoned to the foreign office to launch the protests, the reply added.
The ministry further said that the US started to opt for drone attacks in the tribal areas since 2008. However, it said, the frequency of the attacks increased to 37 strikes in 2009 and 115 in 2010. It added that so far this year more than 200 drone strikes had taken place.
The ministry also said that it was not privy to any agreement with the US government for carrying out drone attacks.
It said the government of Pakistan would continue to underscore with the US about the futility of the attacks which were enhancing anti-American sentiment among the public and affecting bilateral relations.
This reply was submitted in connection with a petition filed by Jamatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed against US drone attacks on Pakistani soil.
The ministry requested the court to dismiss the petition as being not maintainable.
It said the petitioner approached the LHC under Article 199 of the Constitution which allowed only an aggrieved person to file a petition.
The public interest litigation, it said, fell under the purview of Article 184(3) of the Constitution which was the jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
The chief justice asked the JuD counsel to file his reply on the next hearing, December 13.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2012.