At last, Pakistan has raised the issue of drone strikes within its territory at the United Nations security Council during discussion on the situation in Afghanistan, as there was no clandestine accord between Pakistan and the United States on drone warfare. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Masood Khan said drone strikes violate sovereignty, cause civilian casualties and called for their cessation.
Earlier, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his recent visit to Islamabad endorsed Pakistan’s sentiments and categorically expressed his concern regarding drone strikes and pointed out the adverse consequences of these attacks. He condemned drone strikes by saying “Use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law”.
It’s now almost a decade that United States has been operating covert unmanned aerial vehicles (drone) strikes, controlled by the CIA’s Special Activities Division, in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas of Pakistan against Al Qaeda/Taliban militants. The attacks, initiated during President George W. Bush tenure, followed by noticeably increased strikes by Obama administration. Although, US has claimed that its drone warfare is restricted as well as targeted, the reality on the ground is quite different, the controversial drone strikes have been blamed for collateral damage, killing civilians, violating sovereignty as well as humanitarian law.
According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA carried out 400 drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan, killing more than 3,500 people since 2004, including hundreds of civilians. It also revealed that there were deliberate ‘double-hit’ targeting of rescuers and funeral-goers by CIA.
Another study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law exposed that the number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low – estimated at only 2%. The international community’s apprehension increased substantially, surrounding the concern of civilian killings by CIA led covert drone strikes. The United Nations Human Rights Council began an investigation following Russia, China and Pakistan requested an action for aggressive UAV attacks.
The CIA led drone warfare solved nothing and only inflamed the situation further – morally, legally, and politically. Pakistan has been protested formally as well as informally to the US to stop these attacks by calling them counter-productive, as these strikes have done an enormous damage to the peace process in the region and have taken lives of innocent people. The inflexible Obama administration never acknowledged unlawful attacks and Pakistan’s stance, but in reality accelerated the strikes, consequently infuriating the circumstances.
These repeated attacks have created massive anti-American sentiments throughout the local population. If truth be told, drone strikes have helped militants, who use the emotions and anger of frustrated people as their recruitment tool to raise more fervor for supporting their terrorism activities and terrorist networks — thus caused extra radicalisation in the society.
On the broader aspect, US has repeatedly violated a sovereign country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by unlawfully entering its border and killing innocent civilians including women and children , by launching deadly drone strikes within the territory, which is against the international rule of law and a violation of the UN charter.
Recently, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said: “The current lack of transparency surrounding their (drone) use creates an accountability vacuum and affects the ability of victims to seek redress”. Pakistan army had never attacked any US objects, in fact, terrorist activities have been emanating from non-state actors and this doesn’t authorize US to infringe Pakistan’s sovereignty. Hence, US rhetoric of using contentious assassination drones as ‘self-defense’ can never be legally justified. The same rule can be applied for Yemen as well.
The CIA’s armed drone annihilation apart from extensive social and economic outflows also creates a blurry image of Pakistan’s army which is not acceptable. Raising the issue of drones in UN is an ample example that there is a full fledged anger towards UAVs at almost all levels and for this reason Pakistan’s political, military establishment is standing together against the inhuman drones.
In reality, it was the efforts of Pakistan armed forces that helped in countering terrorism, Operation Rah-e-Nijat, Operation Rah-e-Rast and Operation Rah-e-Haq in militant hit areas are foremost successful actions of Pak army. The military operations have shaped a situation favorable for the political progression. Pakistani nation has always showed complete solidarity and support for its armed forces who are still sacrificing their lives for the cause of peace.
Pakistan has already done its job exceptionally as a front-line ally for the ‘War on Terrorism’. The Pakistan army has suffered huge losses but never stepped backed from the sacrifice and fought bravely to eradicate the terrorists from its soil. Meanwhile, US have repeatedly acknowledged that US needs Pakistan’s help for peace development in the region as well as for the safe environment for a stable Afghanistan after the departure of NATO forces.
On the contrary, CIA’s predator strikes are demeaning Pakistan, deteriorated the security situation within the county and filled the inhabitants with deep hatred and rage. Drones Strikes created a gigantic obstacle in uphill struggle to re-establish the significant bilateral Pak-US relationship based on equal and constructive approach. At such a critical junction, ‘US actions speak louder than its words’, since drone attacks are creating a line of separation and bitterness.