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UN: US Drone Strikes Violate Pakistan's Sovereignty

"The UN’s statement today is an unequivocal warning that the CIA drones program is not only completely unwanted by the Pakistani government but is irrefutably illegal."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Pakistan has condemned justifications given by U.S. officials for its drone strikes, which are "a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty" and have killed hundreds of civilians, the head of a United Nations team probing U.S. drone attacks stated Friday.

Following a three-day visit to the country, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson issued the unequivocal statement that Pakistan does not give consent to the drone attacks on its territory and wants the program to end immediately.

The position of the Government of Pakistan is quite clear. It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State. It involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalising a whole new generation, and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region.

Pakistan has called on the US to cease its campaign immediately.

Kat Craig, Legal Director at the UK-based charity Reprieve adds:

The UN’s statement today is an unequivocal warning that the CIA drones programme is not only completely unwanted by the Pakistani government but is irrefutably illegal. More worryingly, it is shredding apart the fabric of life in Pakistan, terrorising entire communities. The Special Rapporteur’s job is to balance the need for counter-terrorism with the need to protect basic human rights – what he has revealed today is that this balance is far, far from being achieved. US drone strikes in Pakistan must stop and the international community must turn its attention to the plight of the most vulnerable people whose lives are being devastated by these killing machines.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that "Pakistan used the special rapporteur’s visit to mount a full-blooded attack on the justifications given by US officials for the drone campaign." Emmerson's statement continues:

In a direct challenge to the suggested legal justification for these strikes, the Government of Pakistan has also made it quite clear during these discussions that any suggestion that it is ‘unwilling or unable’ to combat terrorism on its own territory is not only wrong, but is an affront to the many Pakistani victims of terrorism who have lost their lives.

Based on its direct knowledge of local conditions, Pakistan aims to a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy that involves dialogue and development in this complex region and that tackles not only the manifestations of terrorism but also its root causes.

The people of Pakistan need to be given room to develop this strategy. The Pashtun tribes of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have suffered enormously under the drone campaign. These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West. Their tribal structures have been broken down by the military campaign in FATA and by the use of drones in particular.

It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other States.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has referred to Obama's time in office as the "reaper presidency," and estimates that between 2004 and 2013 as many as 884 civilians may have been killed in drone attacks.


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