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.
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

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

Why These Are New York City's Most Treasured Spaces

Under threat of jail time and fines, some New York property owners are not allowed to renovate their spaces without prior approval More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: dk sardana from: delhi
October 22, 2013 9:07 PM
Pakistani PM's utterances are just posturing and game for gallery.They take Billions of dollars to allow these strikes.Ask Imran Khan and he will reveal the truth.

by: Anonymous
October 22, 2013 5:32 PM
Why don't we work with the Nation that is holding the terrorist to allow them to capture these specific "terrorists"? Let them capture and hand them over to the proper people? Why not? Too complicated than blowing shit up?

by: Reddawg from: MN
October 22, 2013 4:49 PM
AI... do you really think radical muslims care about human rights? Seriously - get a grip. Use our technology to get them before they get us.

by: Cranksy from: USA
October 22, 2013 2:09 PM
This does not mitigate Amnesty International's report, but I am grateful to VOA for publishing this article. VOA is America's state news agency. Frequently when it said that information comes from a state news agency the content is treated dismissively. I can see though that this article could be felt to be adding insult to injury, if the subtext is: Yes, we are and you can't stop us.

by: Anonymous
October 22, 2013 6:41 AM
shafiq from afghanistan US is doing well i like to see those terrorist peoples' dead

by: Danny Boyle from: UK
October 22, 2013 2:14 AM
The US government is quite stupid to be frank. They think that by killing their intended targets they make the world a safer place? Everytime they kill a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, an uncle, a child, they create dozens of revenge filled people - even moreso when those killed were collateral murders.
Every empire fell when it resorted to hardline measures to secure its interests natively and internationally, the USA is effectively on a collision course with disaster.
As a superpower it should be teaching diplomacy, it should be encouraging the unity of mankind to stop suffering and corruption.
But sadly as its own corporate influenced government is as corrupt as those who use religion to brainwash others to their cause, there is no hope.
Nations across the globe are getting restless, people are getting restless, governments are resorting to tighter controls to maintain a grip on their societies... the next phase of world conflicts is upon us... it is true, history truly repeats.
In Response

by: Hu Dat
October 22, 2013 9:45 PM
unfortunately the side effect of too much power is that nations rely less and less on diplomacy and more and more on bullets.
In Response

by: Alabaster Hanz
October 22, 2013 5:48 PM
It's not "stupid", but it is inherently evil.

Your premise seems to be that the US doesn't "understand" that when it murders innocent civilians it creates terrorists. Considering the US government has had it's own intelligence agencies issue report after report telling them precisely that fact, they know extremely well that targeting and murdering children creates terrorists.

It's very simple. The US sinks the bulk of it's budget into an insanely bloated, useless, cash-cow military at a time when there is no nation on the planet threatening it. The US is now the SOLE superpower. Since they're not going to end the gravy train of military money, the answer (to them) isn't not to cut back our bloated military, but to create enemies.

The fact that biggest profiteers of the war of aggression against Iraq was Halliburton, whose former CEO was Dick Cheney, should tell everyone that the USA is fully aware it's drone strikes against civilians creates terrorists - thereby making a boatload of money for amoral scum in the US government.

by: Snake from: South Florida
October 22, 2013 2:06 AM
Shut up Amnesty International, before we send a drone strike right at your headquarters! Ha!
In Response

by: Vik from: India
October 23, 2013 2:35 AM
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 22, 2013 6:35 PM
u ever gone to school?
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs