PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed the federal government and the political agents of North Waziristan and South Waziristan to submit complete record of collateral damage to the tribal people in the US drone strikes to-date.
Heading a division bench, PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan also directed Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Iqbal Mohmand and lawyers of the petitioners to study different aspects of drone attacks, particularly the international laws and conventions and likely violations to enable the court to pass an appropriate order in the cases against the drone strikes.
The bench also asked the government to submit duly attested copies of the parliamentary resolution against drone strikes, defence committee minutes on the issue and the Pakistan government protests to the US Embassy against the strikes.
During the hearing, no one including Assistant Political Agent (APA) North Waziristan, Muhammad Amin, Assistant Political Officer (APO) Hamidullah or the deputy attorney general produced record of collateral damage in the drone strikes in tribal regions, particularly in North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
Barrister Shahzad Akbar, Director Legal Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) that filed two writ petitions against the drone strikes on behalf of the tribal victims, contended that he would highlight violations of international laws and conventions regarding the drone attacks at the next hearing.
He requested the court to direct the respondents to submit complete record of collateral damage in the strikes. During the previous hearing, the defence ministry had informed the court that there existed no verbal or written agreement between Islamabad and Washington on the US drone attacks inside Pakistan and therefore, the strikes violated the country’s sovereignty.
Deputy Attorney General Iqbal Mohmand told the bench that the Pakistani government had condemned drone attacks several times and a joint sitting of parliament had passed unanimous resolution against the strikes by the US pilotless aircraft but these have continued.
The bench observed that apparently the US conducted drone attacks inside Pakistan in violation of international laws, including the Geneva Convention, and therefore, the UN should have taken notice of the strikes.
When the chief justice asked the deputy attorney general whether the government had approached any international forum to challenge these attacks, he replied in the negative saying the drone strikes had begun during the rule of General Pervez Musharraf.
PML-N lawyer FM Sabir and the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), Foundation for Fundamental Rights and others had filed the petitions.
FM Sabir in his petition requested the court to direct the government to immediately check drone strikes and these were against the collective will of 180 million Pakistan people, particularly those of North Waziristan and South Waziristan.