Killing innocent tribesmen in drone strikes is a war crime in violation of the Geneva Convention, said Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan.
While addressing a Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Convention titled ‘Rule of Law in Fata’ held at the PHC, Khan said tribesmen are citizens of Pakistan and under Article 1 of the Constitution it is the state’s responsibility to protect their lives and property.
Arranged by the Fata Lawyers Forum, the convention was also attended by lawyers from settled areas, advocate general Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), deputy attorney generals and Supreme Court Bar Association President Israr-ul-Haq, among others.
Khan added that even the United Nations has not been able to fulfil its obligation of reducing conflicts as innocents are still being killed in drone attacks.
“Parliaments in other countries legislate for the benefit of the whole country. In Pakistan elected parliaments decide for the entire country, but not the tribal areas,” said PHC chief justice.
He added this scenario has turned the once peaceful region into a battlefield.
“Even though the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1974 barred the president from legislating laws for Fata, the region of 10 million people is being ruled by one person under the cover of one section of the Constitution which allows him (the president) to even bypass the parliament,” said Khan.
During his speech, CJ Khan said the current chaotic law and order situation in the tribal belt is a result of the absence of proper laws for the area. Once this happens some influential people will lose their perks and privileges, he claimed.
He added that treating them under a law imposed in 1901 (Frontier Crimes Regulation) would be very unfortunate.
Fata Lawyers Forum President Ijaz Mohmand said even though reforms for Fata were not implemented, lawyers would continue their struggle until the jurisdiction of the superior judiciary is extended to Fata.
Earlier, speakers said the judiciary has been stressing upon extending its jurisdictions to Fata to provide them basic human and fundamental rights. They also demanded the expulsion of Article 247 from the Constitution. They said people of the tribal areas should also be treated at par with those living in any other settled parts of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.
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