ISLAMABAD: Victims of US drone strikes approached the newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with a written request to stop the drone strikes in the tribal areas.
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) had on May 9 declared the drone strikes targeting suspected militants to be a “war crime” and ordered the federal government of Pakistan to take steps to halt them.
Drone victims’ families and their lawyer, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, wrote a letter to PM Sharif urging him to heed the court’s ruling, which calls on the government to take the matter up at the UN Security Council.
“Only 47 militants could be eliminated so far in the strikes,” said Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Reprieve’s legal fellow and Director of Foundation of Fundamental Rights, an NGO which campaigns against drone attacks and provides legal assistance to drone victims.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, Akbar briefed journalists about the judgment passed by the PHC that declared drone strikes to be in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The judgment also declared the US and those who aid and abet its drone strikes guilty of war crimes, punishable to the full extent of law, Akbar added.
In his maiden speech, PM Sharif said drone strikes should come to an end and termed these attacks a violation of the sovereignty of the country.
The Foreign Office on Saturday summoned US Charge d’ Affaires (CdA), Deputy Ambassador Richard Hoagland, on Saturday to lodge a “strong protest” against the drone strike in North Waziristan which killed seven people on Friday.
A statement released by the Foreign Office said that the “Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the drone strikes which are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
1,449 innocent citizens, most of them elders, women and children, have been murdered by drone strikes while 335 have been injured from drone attacks in the past five years, according to statements submitted by political agents of Waziristan before the PHC.
Victims of drone strikes
Karim Khan lost his son and one of his brothers in a US drone strike. Khan told The Express Tribune that they will not fight against their own government.
“We just request the prime minister that they and many others like them will continue to die at the hand of a foreign aggressor if you (PM) do not act swiftly in fulfilling his constitutional duty and legal obligations,” he commented.
Muhammad Nazir, whose son was killed in a US drone strike in June 2006 in North Waziristan, said he wanted revenge for his son’s death.
“My son was 25 years old, he was a labourer and was working in a house with other labourers in the night when the drone strike took place,” he said. “According to tribal law, you kill the son of that person who kills your son, so I will take revenge of my son’s killing whenever I have the opportunity.”
Amir Mir Dad, hailing from a bordering area of South Waziristan, said a drone attack killed his father and one of his cousins on 17 March 2011.
Malik Jalal, a tribal elder of Mir Ali North Waziristan agency, said 27 innocent people of his village were killed in another drone attack.
“Even they don’t spare funeral and several funerals have become target of drone strike,” he recalled.