Pakistani Court Accuses U.S. of War Crimes for Drone Strikes
May 13, 2013 10:33 AM
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Unsatisifed with "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per dead civilian, Pakistanis demand action
Could the U.S., who perennial accuses its enemies of war crimes soon face those accusations itself before the UN? That possibility appears increasingly likely following a landmark Pakistani court ruling.
I. Embattled UAV Death Strike Program is Condemned by Court
In the name of fighting terrorism the U.S. has been
carrying out a silent war of drone strikes
in Pakistan, Qatar, and other Middle Eastern states, order death-strikes on what it say are "terrorists". But recently released numbers reveal the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) warfare program, largely controlled by the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
has a very low succes rate
in terms of killing high-profile militants, while having large levels of civilian collateral damage with some strikes killing women and children.
In response four petitions by tribal leaders complaining that U.S. drone strikes were killing civilians, Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and the junior judge on Pakistan two-judge Peshawar High Court panel decided that the drone were war crimes as they killed innocent civilians.
The panel says that the drone strikes were inhumane and violated the UN Charter on Human Rights. The court is asking the government of Pakistan to push a UN resolution to condemn the strikes and declare them a war crimes, writing [
according to translation
The Press Trust of India
, "The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future. If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US."
Pakistanis aren't satisifed with the U.S.'s "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per dead civilian. [Image Source: Reuters]
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case, is quoted as saying, "This is a landmark judgment. Drone victims in Waziristan will now get some justice after a long wait. This judgment will also prove to be a test for the new government: if drone strikes continue and the government fails to act, it will run the risk of contempt of court."
II. Shift in Pakistani Leadership May Give War Crimes Allegations New Life
So far the Pakistani government, which relies on the U.S. for billions in aid payoffs has been hesitant to declare the U.S. guilty of war crimes. The U.S. federal government gave $17B USD [
] in 2009 to the governments of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Pakistan. Of these nations, Egypt has seen its government overthrown since on allegations of corruption, while Afghanistan has struggled under the weight of similar allegations of sweeping bribery and corruption. And Pakistan has been
implicated in sheltering Osama bin Laden
, the world's most famous terrorist.
But some foreign observers say regardles of special interests the Pakistani government should not tolerate the civilian deaths. Comments Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based human rights watchdog group
, "Today's momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA's secret drone war."
Some in the U.S. and Britain argue that the strikes are doing little to combat terrorism, and in fact are pushing locals towards terrorism.
In August 2012, a drone strike in Ye
40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda. The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.
Some feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans on U.S. soil. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]
To be fair, U.S. President Obama has
claimed a similar authority to kill American "terrorists" without warrant
on U.S. soil (although his adminstration
tried to cover up that policy
). The administration also does have a policy of paying the family of civilians it kills in the Middle East "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per body.
While the current administration may be hesistant to take action in the UN against the U.S. elections are fast approaching. This Saturday's election sees the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party leading in current polls. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the party's leader, promises a zero-tolerance policy on drone strike civilian deaths. He comments, "Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country's autonomy and independence."
The U.S. has often accused hostile regimes like the governments of Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea of war crimes in recent years. However, it has seldom been on the receiving end of such accusations, despite an aggressive (and expensive) overseas military program.
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RE: A Trial in the Hague
5/13/2013 6:03:23 PM
So many people posting on this subject. And so many people that don't know what the hell they're talking about.
Right now the US is in the position to project force to ensure it's best interests. I seriously doubt there's any country in the world that wouldn't do the same if it could. I'm not speaking of morality, I'm talking about power. But, its funny how [people like you] believe the US should intervene whenever they think it's right (read: your own self-interests), but when it's for US self-interests you get back on your high horse. All it proves is that you'd do the same.
RE: A Trial in the Hague
5/14/2013 4:27:12 AM
We haven't got any interests in common, your country exploits our position to bolster your own, Pine Gap here in Australia which monitors the stuff you can't see from your side of the world. We have allowed you recently to establish a Marine base here only so that we can participate in military exercises with you. The reason is to study your tactics and technology so that we can match our capability to yours, which is not so technologically based as yours by using our brains instead. Get it, our military are studying you as if you are the enemy, which most common Aussie think you are. Self interest is the only reason you people ever do anything, if your country was destroyed tomorrow there would not be much of an outcry ( apart from apple product users who really aren't human anyway ).
RE: A Trial in the Hague
5/14/2013 12:55:17 PM
One thing I know about Australia is that they love Americans.
Of course you'll always find fringe lunatics such as yourself with radical beliefs.
RE: A Trial in the Hague
5/14/2013 5:38:42 PM
Aussies love to project that easy going image but we are the exact opposite, that's why with such a small population we dominate anything we put our minds too. If the population of Australia liked you then why did we invent the term "septic tanks" ( Yanks ). Its just unfortunate that we sometimes mistake those lovely Canadian people for you guys because of the accent.
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