US drone strikes in Pakistan to go under UN microscope

Published: January 24, 2013
According to a report, between 2,627 and 3,457 people have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004, including between 475 to 900 civilians. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

According to a report, between 2,627 and 3,457 people have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004, including between 475 to 900 civilians. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: United Nations will launch an investigation into the targeted killings being carried out by US drone strikes in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Foreign Office confirmed on Thursday.

Foreign Office spokesperson Moazzam Ali Khan said that the inquiry is part of a broader mandate given to UN Rapporteur Ben Emmerson by the UN Human Rights Council to examine abuse of human rights while countering terrorism.

A report published in the Guardian on Thursday said that a UN Special Rapporteur will inquire into US strikes in Pakistan and in Sahel region of Africa and the military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in UK operations in Afghanistan.

The report said that about 20 or 30 strikes – selected as representative of different types of attacks – will be studied to assess “the extent of any civilian casualties, the identity of militants targeted and the legality of strikes in countries where the UN has not formally recognised there is a conflict”.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan, along with other like-minded countries, had called for examining the extra-judicial and targeted killings carried out by drones resulting in death of civilians and non-combatants.

He said that Pakistan regards drone strikes to be in violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have no legality and are counter-productive, he said adding that the issue has been a constant source of concern for Pakistan.

“We have been communicating this to the US administration at every level,” he said.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • stranger
    Jan 24, 2013 - 7:08PM

    A drone a day keeps terrorists away .


  • A J Khan
    Jan 24, 2013 - 8:00PM

    Drones have come to stay on battle field. It is lethal, flexible, effective, force multiplier and can dig out the hidden enemy with least collateral damage. Pakistan needs to produce or buy this weapon to reduce the casualties of ground forces and mop the enemies of State and humanity.


  • Anoni
    Jan 24, 2013 - 8:05PM

    First of all Which ones? and second who decide which one? .


  • Raj - USA
    Jan 24, 2013 - 8:10PM

    Of interest to me is to watch China’s position on this. I believe China supports drone strikes as they are as much worried of terrorism spreading to their region. Killing of Hazaras in Pakistan who have common ethnicity with the Chinese, is an expression of hatred for the Chinese. China knows it well.


  • Kamran
    Jan 24, 2013 - 8:36PM

    @Raj – you are a funny man!!


  • Bangash
    Jan 24, 2013 - 8:55PM

    What about dead bodies of alleged militants frequently found on the roads in KP, Baluchistan and FATA ? Does Pakmil get a pass on that ?


  • MK
    Jan 24, 2013 - 9:14PM

    @ Raj – USA

    Hazara are not related to Chinese. They have some relation to Mongolians and central Asians. Typical American ignorance (about rest of the world) must have rubbed on you, when it comes to identifying cultures and ethnicity. Just like not all white people are same, not all brown people are same, not all Africans are same, East Asians (Chinese Mongolians, Koreans, Japanese, Tibetans, Burmese etc are different people as well). Unfortunate killing of Hazara in Pakistan is sectarian in nature. Radical Sunni outfits are showing their hatred towards Shia Muslims by targeting innocent Hazara community. Shia Muslims of other Ethnic backgrounds have been targeted as well all over Pakistan by same radical groups.

    Coming to the topic on hand, ever wonder why US would not use drones on its own soil to counter their drug smugglers and gangs who are responsible for 10s of thousands killings (both in the form of gun related violence and drug related deaths). You don’t see drones dropping bombs in rough neighborhoods or known Drug dens in US. Because law says that you cannot execute someone without putting that person on trial and prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Everything changes when it comes to killing citizens of other countries. Then US is the judge, jury and Executioner all in one.


  • Raj - USA
    Jan 24, 2013 - 10:32PM

    I may be somewhat off the mark on the Hazaras but not very much. Hazaras are targeted not only on sectarian grounds but also for their distinctive features. Many Pakistanis also associate themselves with the Arabs, not just on religious grounds only. West Pakistan could not develop good relations with East Pakistan ever since its creation as they look different though they followed the same religion.

    On drone strikes, the case of terrorists in Pakistan and drug gangs in US are totally different. In US the police go after them, the courts punish them and above all they are not created and protected by the army. Whereas, in Pakistan the terrorists are created and nurtured by the army; religious and mainstream political parties support them; and courts do not punish them even if someone like Malik Ishaq openly confesses in the court.


  • John B
    Jan 25, 2013 - 1:10AM

    In the coming years, no UN personnel manned air craft will be deployed in conflict zones. In effect this is a welcome news to come to grip with reality of changing war conflicts and formulating an international consensus.

    The burden now falls on the lawyers of UN to provide proof that damages are excessive, US has no legal authority to target these militants and those targeted are innocents; that is a tall order to claim, since everyone killed by the drone is innocent according to anti- drone campaigners supported by PAK.


  • MK
    Jan 25, 2013 - 1:29AM

    @Raj – USA:

    “Many Pakistanis also associate themselves with the Arabs, not just on religious grounds only”

    That is true. There are small number who are decedents of Arabs who came as immigrants and Invaders. Last names like Qureshi, Hashami, Shah, Syed, Alvi are few examples. Pakistanis of other origins use last names relevant to them. President Zardari (Baluch by ethnicity and Sindhi by culture). Our Prime minister use RAJA as his surname (Rajput ancestry). You are forgetting Pakistan is a diverse culture. We have Arabs, Afghans, Persians, Mongols, Central Asians, Africans, Dardic, Dravidian, Indo Aryan and many other ethnicities living here. What is the relevance of that here. Arab Origin Pakistanis are a minority themselves. Are you implying that all troubles in Pakistan are their fault??

    “West Pakistan could not develop good relations with East Pakistan ever since its creation as they look different though they followed the same religion.”

    Again ethnicity was not an issue there. It was provincial autonomy demand that was the issue. M Ali Jinnah asked for same (autonomy within United India) initially, and when that demand was rejected he choose more extreme option of total Independence. Same happened again when Bengali’s asked for autonomy and control of some affairs, but it was denied which lead to more extreme option of independence. Provincial autonomy is still an on going issue in Pakistan.How Bengalis looked physically was never an issue. Your ignorance is showing once again. Recommend

    Jan 25, 2013 - 4:51AM



  • Jan 25, 2013 - 7:36PM

    A United Kingdom human right lawyer,stated that
    Aunited nation team underhis leadership would make inquiry,what he described ”the exponential rise in drone attacks used in counter terrorist activities.
    In view to the determination is there a plausible accusation of unlawfull killing.

    No doubt,
    a very important question has been set as a base of the investigation.
    as for as my personal opinion is concerned it should be start from Pakistan.
    because this country is highly effected by drone strikes being used against its sovereignty.


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