UN says US drones vi­o­late Pak­istan’s sovereignty

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The head of a UN team in­ves­ti­gat­ing ca­su­al­ties from US drone strikes in Pak­istan de­clared af­ter a se­cret re­search trip to the coun­try that the at­tacks vi­o­late Pak­istan’s sovereignty.

Ben Em­mer­son, the UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on hu­man rights and counter-ter­ror­ism, said the Pak­istani government made clear to him that it does not con­sent to the strikes — a po­si­tion that has been dis­puted by U.S. of­fi­cials.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has stepped up covert CIA drone strikes tar­get­ing al-Qaida and Tal­iban mil­i­tants in Pak­istan’s tribal re­gion along the Afghan bor­der since he took of­fice in 2009. The strikes have caused grow­ing con­tro­versy be­cause of the se­crecy sur­round­ing them and claims that they have caused sig­nif­i­cant civil­ian ca­su­al­ties — al­le­ga­tions de­nied by the United States. Ac­cord­ing to a U.N. state­ment that Em­mer­son, the Pak­istani government told him it has con­firmed at least 400 civil­ian deaths by US drones on its ter­ri­tory. The state­ment was ini­tially re­leased on Thurs­day, fol­low­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s three-day visit to Pak­istan, which ended Wed­nes­day. The visit was kept se­cret un­til Em­mer­son left. Im­tiaz Gul, an ex­pert on Pak­istani mil­i­tancy who is help­ing Em­mer­son’s team, said Fri­day that the or­ga­ni­za­tion he runs, the Cen­tre for Re­search and Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, gave the UN in­ves­ti­ga­tor case stud­ies of 25 strikes that al­legedly killed civil­ians dur­ing his visit.

The UN in­ves­ti­ga­tion into civil­ian ca­su­al­ties from drone strikes and other tar­geted killings in Pak­istan and sev­eral other coun­tries was launched in Jan­uary and is ex­pected to de­liver its con­clu­sions in Oc­to­ber. The US rarely dis­cusses the strikes in pub­lic be­cause of their covert na­ture, but of­fi­cials have said pri­vately that they have caused very few civil­ian ca­su­al­ties.

A 2012 in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the AP into 10 of the dead­li­est re­cent drone strikes in Pak­istan found that a sig­nif­i­cant ma­jor­ity of the ca­su­al­ties were mil­i­tants, but civil­ians were also be­ing killed.

Pak­istani of­fi­cials reg­u­larly crit­i­cize the at­tacks in pub­lic as a vi­o­la­tion of the coun­try’s sovereignty, a pop­u­lar po­si­tion in a coun­try where anti-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment runs high. But the re­al­ity has been more com­pli­cated in the past.

For many years, Pak­istan al­lowed U.S. drones to take off from bases within the coun­try. Doc­u­ments re­leased by Wik­iLeaks in 2010 showed that se­nior Pak­istani of­fi­cials con­sented to the strikes in pri­vate to U.S. diplo­mats, while at the same time con­demn­ing them in pub­lic.

Co­op­er­a­tion has cer­tainly waned since then as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Pak­istan and the U.S. has de­te­ri­o­rated. In 2011, Pak­istan kicked the U.S. out of an air base used by Amer­i­can drones in the coun­try’s south­west, in re­tal­i­a­tion for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pak­istani sol­diers.

But U.S. of­fi­cials in­sist pri­vately that co­op­er­a­tion has not ended al­to­gether, and key Pak­istani mil­i­tary of­fi­cers and civil­ian.

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