Ending the unmanned war: PM asked to drop plans to seek US drone tech

Published: July 22, 2013
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Pakistan expects that the final UN report will help develop consensus against use of drones as weapons. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan expects that the final UN report will help develop consensus against use of drones as weapons. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: As the government looks for alternatives to convince the US to call off its drone campaign in the tribal areas, the foreign ministry has asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to drop his plan to ask Washington for the transfer of drone technology from his list of options citing ‘legal implications’.

The government was planning to formally request the US for drone technology during the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry as part of efforts to end the impasse over the controversial programme.

However, senior foreign ministry officials recently briefed the government on the likely implications of such a policy.

“We have to take a principled stand against drone use. Seeking drone technology shows a contradiction in our policy,” argued a foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Killing people without due process of law through drones is illegal. If Pakistan acquires this technology, should it kill people without due process as well?” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif publicly condemns drone attacks and has urged the US to stop such unilateral strikes.

In a recent background briefing, one senior government official told journalists that Islamabad would seek drone technology from the US to deal with the terror threat.

However, the foreign office strongly believes that acquiring drone technology would weaken Pakistan’s case against the illegal use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The foreign office has conveyed its position to the government on the issue. It is now up to them to take the final decision,” said another official.

The official recalled that when the head of the UN team investigating the civilian impact of drone use travelled to Pakistan in March this year, Islamabad sought a ban on the unilateral use of drones against sovereign countries. He said Pakistan was engaged in efforts to create consensus for declaring drone use in counter-terrorism operations illegal.

UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emerson is due to present his report on the legality of drone use before the annual session of world body in September.

Pakistan expects that the final UN report will help develop consensus against use of drones as weapons.

A recent survey conducted by Washington-based Pew Research Center revealed that the US policy of drone use in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is facing broad opposition around the world. The survey conducted on the issue in 39 countries, found that more than half of the respondents in 31 of these countries disapproved of US drone attacks against extremist groups. The report noted that in most of the nations polled, there continues to be extensive opposition to the American drone campaign against extremist leaders and organizations.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Truth
    Jul 22, 2013 - 2:05AM

    Nawaz is talking as if, US is ready to give drone tech to pakistan !

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  • Nadir
    Jul 22, 2013 - 2:12AM

    Phew, about time someone realised this.

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  • Arindom
    Jul 22, 2013 - 2:22AM

    “principled stand”?….??…”contradiction in policy?…..” don’t make the world laugh……So you had been running a non-contradictory and principled policy for the last 40 years – a policy of “strategic depth” ….”non-state actors” … OBL…..etc?

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  • Babloo
    Jul 22, 2013 - 2:33AM

    Why worry about contradictions now when the entire set up is based on contradictions for last 65 years ? Isn’t that itself a contradiction ?

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  • Usama Sami
    Jul 22, 2013 - 3:33AM

    In broader interest of the nation, what needs to be done…should be done. Please don’t blindfold us with these legalities. We’ve already have had too much on this issue.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 22, 2013 - 4:30AM

    Sensible move by the government. When Establishment used to run the foreign policy, their only interest was to get the drone technology and nothing else.

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  • ABC
    Jul 22, 2013 - 4:55AM

    Pakistan army, government both support and allow drone attacks as seen in wiki leaks and OBL commission report. They should stop the drama and come clean to the public about this. How can I as a Pakistani protest against drone attacks and complain about them to other countries when they are legally allowed by my own army and government?

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Jul 22, 2013 - 5:23AM

    GOP says: Killing people without due process of law through drones is illegal.
    Global Citizens say: Killing innocent people through supporting non state actors is illegal.

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  • Zohair
    Jul 22, 2013 - 12:06PM

    If the Govt opposes Drone Attacks…then shoot the drones down.

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  • I. Ahmad
    Jul 22, 2013 - 12:34PM

    There will be no use of acquiring drone technology as Pakistan could not use it any where. There are many hindrances for Pakistan. So do not waste money on it.

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  • FactCheck
    Jul 22, 2013 - 3:37PM

    Didn’t know US was waiting for Pakistan to ask for the technology. After all, US would not want impose such technology on Pakistan and violate Pakistan’s sovereignty!

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  • Waqar Khan
    Jul 22, 2013 - 7:31PM

    last night, I had a dream that I had joined those suicide bombers, and when they were ready to go on on their mission to blow up the innocent people, I had secretly sent a video type to the CNN and the locations of all the terrorists living in the boarder of Pakistan….while there before they hit off the to the mission, I blew up a bomb in the middle and video type everything….eventually everyone die….and I asked the CIA to help them drone all the targets…..I eventually became a hero, and saved the innocent Pakistani from everyday bombing…..I don’t understand what is the Pakistan’s problem, yes, these bombs killed a few innocent people, but it’s far less then the innocent people that would have eventually would have being killed had these terrorists lived a day more….drones is not an excuse, Pakistan should fix its own law and order situation, it should take control over all the illegal bomb factories…….

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  • unbelievable
    Jul 22, 2013 - 8:00PM

    Might be a simple acknowledgement that the USA is never going to give Pakistan drone technology so why bother to ask.

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  • concerned
    Jul 22, 2013 - 10:13PM

    @Waqar Khan:
    What a lie

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  • Hamid Siddiqui
    Jul 23, 2013 - 12:00AM

    @ABC: Wrong is done, now they are trying to correct, lets hope they are honest and sincere this time, and support them if they do it.

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  • Adil
    Jul 23, 2013 - 10:27AM

    How silly – do not confuse a system of checks and balances which is what the opposition is to vs. the technology.

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