ISLAMABAD: Even as Islamabad announced that the Pakistan-US relations were back on track and were now free of strains after leaders of the two countries worked hard to overcome the tensions, the head of a UN team investigating the casualties from the US drone strikes has concluded that the drone attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty, and do not have the consent of the government here.
In New York, Pakistan’s permanent representative Ambassador Masood Khan, in a lecture on “Pakistan and the United Nations”, organised jointly by the United Nations Association of New York (UNANY) and the Columbia University Club, said: “There was no sign of hostility.”
He disagreed with suggestions that the two countries should have a ‘non-allied relationship’ because, “the two countries were old allies dating back to the 50s. We need to deepen our relations, not weaken them.”
Meanwhile, Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, who met this week with minister for foreign affairs, the adviser to the prime minister on human rights, the chairman of the Senate standing committee on defence and defence production, the foreign secretary, besides other senior government officials, says the Pakistani government made it clear to him that it does not consent to drone strikes.
He said Pakistani officials told him they had confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths by the US drones.Interestingly, a few weeks back, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs around 80 percent of total 3,000 people killed in the drone attacks were terrorists.
The spokesman at the Foreign Office said that a part of Emmerson’s work was to study the civilian impact of the use of drones. At present, he is working on his annual report to the General Assembly, which focuses on the civilian impact of the use of drones.
In order to ascertain first hand information on drone strikes and its impact on civilians, the special rapporteur also met with tribal Maliks and victims of drone strikes in Islamabad.
“During interaction with the special rapporteur, Pakistan reiterated its known position that drone strikes are counter-productive, against international law and a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Mr Emerson will present his report on the issue of drones during to the 68th session of the General Assembly in October 2013”, added the spokesman.
Agencies add: UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, visited Islamabad this week as part of an investigation into civilian casualties caused by the drone strikes in Pakistan.
“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,” Emmerson said.
“It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” he added in a statement released after his visit.“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,” said Emmerson.
Emmerson, a British lawyer, said in January that a huge expansion in unmanned aviation and their increasing use required a new legal framework. He is investigating whether drone attacks cause disproportionate civilian casualties.
His report will also study attacks in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Yemen.According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have killed up to 3,577 people since 2004, up to 884 of them civilians, including 197 children.