News / Asia

Pakistani PM Urges Stop to US Drone Strikes

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., October 22, 2013.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., October 22, 2013.
Ayaz GulVOA News
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reiterated his country's demand for an end to U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan.
 
In an address at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington Tuesday, Sharif said he wants to see U.S.-Pakistan relations improve "but the issue of drones has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship."
 
"The use of drones is not only a continual violation of our territorial integrity but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country," said Sharif.
 
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. strongly disagrees with claims that the drone strikes violate international law.
 
 "U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective, and the United States does not take lethal strikes when we or our partners have the ability to capture individual terrorists."

The comments came as the Britain-based rights group Amnesty International issued a report harshly critical of the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan.

FILE - A Reaper drone patrols the skies in southern Afghanistan near the frontier with Pakistan.FILE - A Reaper drone patrols the skies in southern Afghanistan near the frontier with Pakistan.
x
FILE - A Reaper drone patrols the skies in southern Afghanistan near the frontier with Pakistan.
FILE - A Reaper drone patrols the skies in southern Afghanistan near the frontier with Pakistan.
In the document released Tuesday Amnesty International says that the United States “appears to have committed very serious” human rights violations with its drone program in Pakistan, some of which could even amount to war crimes. The rights group is now calling on U.S. authorities to end the secrecy surrounding the controversial program and bring to justice those responsible for civilian deaths in drone attacks.
 
Amnesty International officials describe the report as one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the U.S. drone program. The report reviewed all 45 known missile strikes by the pilotless planes in Pakistan’s militant-dominated North Waziristan tribal territory from January 2012 through August of this year.
 
Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International led the field research into nine of these drone strikes. He told VOA that the findings are unprecedented in many ways; unlike previous international studies, his team was able to physically travel and speak to people from drone strike areas.
 
“We have located exactly where two drone strikes happened, where the victims were standing, where the witnesses were standing. In one horrible case, the grandmother who has been killed in front of her grandchildren, in another case some laborers were killed and the rescuers who came to try to help victims were also killed. So, our question to the U.S. is how can you justify these killings?” asked Qadri.
  
Contrary to official claims that those killed were “terrorists,” Qadri claimed Amnesty International’s research has established that some of those targeted were not involved in fighting, posed no threat to anyone, and certainly were not an imminent threat to the United States.

  For example, the report identifies a 68-year old grandmother killed in October last year as Mamana Bibi. She was picking vegetables in her family’s fields in the village of Ghundi Kala, in North Waziristan, when a drone strike killed her.
 
Amnesty International also released a video interview it conducted with Nabeela, a young granddaughter of the deceased woman, to substantiate its claims.
 
“There was an explosion. We were scared and I ran home. It was dark in front of our house. They brought me to the doctor in the village who gave me first aid. I was not scared before but now, when the drone is flying I am scared of it,” said Nabeela during the interview.
 
Qadri said Amnesty also established that in July 2012 multiple drone strikes on Zowi Sidgi, a remote village near the Afghan border, killed 18 laborers, including one boy, who were preparing to have their evening meal. Qadri said that people who came to assist the injured from the first strike were also killed in a follow-on drone attack.
 
“We are really concerned about the U.S. drone program because it claims it can use them anywhere in the world because it has a global war against al-Qaida and its allies… This is a secret program. In fact in our case we have found at least in some cases they clearly killed civilians and some of these cases might be war crimes. That really concerns us,” said Qadri.
 
U.S. authorities offer very little public information about the CIA-run drone operation in Pakistan. They insist that the missile strikes are carefully planned to avoid civilian casualties and have killed key al-Qaida operatives. They also said that the campaign has become an effective counter-terrorism weapon against militants operating in areas where U.S. troops cannot reach.
 
Amnesty has demanded the United States publicly disclose the legal basis for the drone strike program in Pakistan. It also urges U.S. authorities to investigate all suspected unlawful killings.
 
In addition to its calls on the U.S., Amnesty is also calling on Pakistan to publicly disclose information on all U.S. drone strikes that Pakistani authorities are aware of, including casualties and all assistance provided to victims.
 
Amnesty International claims that in addition to the threat of U.S. drone strikes, people in North Waziristan are frequently caught between attacks by armed militants and Pakistani security forces. The report noted that that the local population lives under constant fear of inescapable violence from all sides.
 
The first U.S. drone attack in Pakistan took place in 2004. In the years since, it was widely believed the operations were part of a secret agreement where Islamabad privately approved them but publicly condemned them.
 
However, Pakistani leaders say they are now strongly opposed to the drone strikes and condemn them as a violation of their country’s territorial integrity. They also insist the attacks are fueling militancy in Pakistan.
 
North Waziristan has long been considered a hub for al-Qaida terrorists and militants within the Haqqani network, who are blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. The U.S. has long pressed the Pakistani military to move against the extremists in North Waziristan. However, it is widely perceived that state control has almost disappeared in the Waziristan territory.
 
Opponents of the drone strikes, like former Pakistani law minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi, insist that Islamabad cannot be held responsible for acts of violence carried out by individuals or outlawed groups present on its soil.
 
“Their acts cannot bind the state of Pakistan and you cannot assume responsibility on the state of Pakistan because they are doing something. They are a much more serious threat to Pakistan. They are on the soil of Pakistan, they have networking here, they have sleeper cells here, they have linkages here, and their ability to be destructive to Pakistan is far more than their ability to cross the Atlantic and get there and try and do something there,” said Soofi.
 
The United Nations is also investigating civilian deaths in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere.
 
U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson also called on the United States to disclose the number of civilians killed in drone attacks.
 
In preliminary findings released last week, Emmerson quoted Pakistani officials as saying drone attacks have killed at least 400 civilians. However, Emmerson also said he is still in the process of confirming reports of civilian deaths in drone strikes with the states involved.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago
October 23, 2013 10:58 AM
Nawaz Sharif has been complaining to the U.S. for all the years in the opposition on Pakistan's parliament after his overthrow by Pervez Musharraf. Even during the George Bush presidency, Sharif told Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, John Negreponte, that he was willing to work with him "if he (the U.S.) stopped bombing Pakistani villages." Negreponte's short response? "You cannot talk to these people -the Pakistani Taliban." Translation?

The U.S. wants them dead because they make the U.S. transition in Afghanistan impossible as they are all Pashtun (the majority tribe) in Afghanistan, and they want the U.S. out completely after 2014. And with the U.S. planning to keep 10.000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to sustain a puppet regime there (with skimpy and manipulated elections), the U.S. drone strikes will continue. Simply stated, without U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, where the powerful Afghan Taliban Haggani Pashtun militia is located to keep them at bay, the possibility of the U.S. maintaining a puppet regime in Kabul are zero! Worse yet for Nawaz Sharif, the U.S. deem his as a nationalist who put Pakistan interests ahead of the U.S. interests in Afghanistan. And the U.S. wants to keep him in check too!

Sharif will get smiles and handshakes from Obama at the white house, but the U.S. will continue the strikes because Obama is still on the cave of the U.S. superpower bravado as was Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam war. Sharif will win in the long term, but Obama won't come to his senses -as Johnson didn't in Vietnam- until he sees the writing in the wall. For now, his myopia in Afghanistan is clouded by the fallacy of his conviction that he can still win there. That's is why he will miss the opportunity today to make Nawaz Sharif a good partner in that war. Obama tries to avoid the U.S. being saddled with an "Afghanistan War Syndrome" during his presidency, but failing to listen to Sharif would only make it a certainty! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

In Response

by: John
October 24, 2013 3:58 AM
I agree that Pakistani opposition to the drone strikes has now surfaced because the US intends to get out of Afghanistan in 2014. Pakistan naturally wishes to get its cats-paws, the Taliban, in power after the withdrawal. Remember how long it took to oust the Soviet Union's ruler after they withdrew!! The initial attack on Jalalabad failed. Remember the initial US invasion. The Taliban were bombed if they concentrated, and chased by the Northern Alliance if they dispersed. If the present Afghan government is given strong air support, and the bases for the attack in Pakistan are bombarded, it will be even more difficult to oust than Soviet installed government. A little cheap propaganda before the onslaught to trim back the air support makes excellent sense.

by: MM from: Canada
October 23, 2013 10:39 AM
The Day Musharraf allowed her mother (Pakistan) to be violated with the first drone, it opened the gate for ongoing strikes. Bad behavior only gets worst once allowed or rewarded for & frankly US has even started awarding medals of valour or what not to those flying these drones using X-Box remote controls so go figure.

Unless ordinary Pakistani men & women do not stand up and demand change in their motherland the leaders wont be bothered much. If Sharif returns compromising on drones I can tell US is going to face quite a turmoil by allowing for yet another military coup by the Army because people will eventually come to the streets as things haven't gotten any better under Sharif either.

The fake elections in Pakistan were also propoganda initiated by US by not allowing an obvious win for Imran K.

by: Allan Ashby
October 23, 2013 9:29 AM
This is the Pakistani government that didn't know a thing about Osama Bin Laden. The one that imprisoned a doctor for 30 years, for helping the US to find Bin Laden.

If these guys want the drones grounded, the drones must be doing a good job.

by: John
October 23, 2013 5:39 AM
Raids have been common throughout history. The West, from the late 19th century, was virtually immune. Now the raids have restarted. The inevitable result is counter-raids. It makes little difference to those on the receiving end whether the delivery vehicle is a suicide bomber or a drone. No doubt, as the decline of the West continues, we shall see a return to the plunder and enslavement of the 18th century. The Somali pirates show the process is continuing.

by: Zjohnny from: Auckland
October 23, 2013 5:30 AM
How is it that the Pakistanis are complaining when they have no control over North Waziristan and tribal areas where most of the drone attacks are taking place? Send in your military to North Waziristan and drone attacks may cease. You scratch my back; I do yours. Might not happen because:

1) Pakistani military are secretly running,funding,training,etc the militants through the ISI;or

2) Pakistani military is mostly concentrated on the border areas facing India and Kashmir.

I see the attacks continuing in the foreseeable future.

by: PJ
October 22, 2013 10:32 PM
Whats wrong with randomly bombing other countries! We do it all the time..gees.
In Response

by: tiktak from: canada
October 23, 2013 9:58 AM
And that's why are considered the most hated nation on this planet.
Americans and the government love gun culture and war around the globe so the can support their Arm and defense Industry.

by: Sadiq al Salaam from: Australia
October 22, 2013 9:59 PM
Stop the drones and you give terrorists freedom to destroy others.

by: Allah from: Thailand
October 22, 2013 9:58 PM
Actually Pakistan needs more drones

by: Hu Dat
October 22, 2013 9:43 PM
It may be legal under US law but unauthorized drones strikes are illegal under International law and that makes the drone attacks unlawful which makes the UN an outlaw nation like Saddam attacking his neighbors.

by: zardoz from: wash.state
October 22, 2013 9:34 PM
revolution
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs