PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) was informed on Thursday that the issue of drone attacks has been raised at various forums by the federal government since the court’s landmark verdict declared strikes illegal last year.
A two-member bench of Justice Nisar Hussain Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth was hearing a contempt of court petition filed by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) for not complying with the PHC’s May 9, 2013 order. FFR helps provide legal aid to enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.
FFR Director Barrister Shehzad Akbar told the bench the court had directed the federal government to take up the issue of the illegal strikes at various forums, including the United Nations (UN), but none had been followed up with. They had thus filed a contempt petition, said Akbar.
He added on December 21, 2013 former PHC chief justice Dost Muhammad Khan had issued a show-cause notice to then secretary ministry of foreign affairs Jalil Abbas Jilani to explain why court orders were not being followed.
Additional Attorney General Attique Shah informed the court after the show-cause notice was served, Jilani submitted his reply to the court stating the issue was raised at all relevant forums. Jilani is currently serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.
Justice Hussain informed the petitioner it came to his knowledge that a resolution was moved in the UN soon after the PHC verdict last year.
The court then ordered a record of Jalil’s reply should be given to the petitioner so he could read and file a rejoinder at the next hearing.
Akbar told The Express Tribune outside the courtroom that the federal government has said the court’s order was being complied with but so far no result has surfaced.
The FFR director shared the court had directed compensation be provided to every victim of the strikes but this had not been followed.
In its May 2013 order, the court judgment had stated, “A proper warning should be administered in this regard and if that does not work, the Government of Pakistan and state institutions, particularly the security forces, shall be under constitutional and legal obligations to shoot down drones attacking Pakistani territories or when they enter the airspace of Pakistan’s sovereign territory.”
It further directed the government to take the matter before the UN Security Council, and if that does not work, an urgent meeting of the UN General Assembly be requisitioned to resolve this issue in an effective manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.
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