PHC seeks details of collateral damage in drone attacks
PESHAWAR, Feb 13: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by administration of North Waziristan Agency about the casualties caused by drone strikes, directing it to submit comprehensive details about the collateral damage including destruction of properties in those attacks.
A two-member bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth also issued last warning to the administration of South Waziristan Agency to submit a report regarding the drones strikes carried out in that region; the people killed and properties destroyed therein.
The deputy attorney general, Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand, submitted the report on behalf of administration of North Waziristan that carried data regarding drone strikes taken place from the year 2008 till 2012. According to that data during those five years a total of 894 persons were killed and 211 received injuries in around 147 drone strikes in the agency.
The data revealed that the killed persons included 787 local men, 35 women and 24 children. The deceased also include 46 male foreigners and two female foreigners. It says that a total of eight strikes took place in 2008, killing 52 persons; nine in 2009 with 82 deaths; 73 in 2010 that killed 424 persons; 38 in 2011 leaving 241 persons killed; and 19 in 2012 killing 95
The bench expressed dissatisfaction over the report, observing that it was having several deficiencies. The PHC chief justice pointed out that the report was devoid of the details that how many killed persons were non-combatants and how many properties including residences were damaged.
The bench also expressed annoyance over non-submission of the report by the South Waziristan administration and ordered that it was the last chance following which action would be taken against the political agent concerned.
The bench was hearing different writ petitions filed by Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) and Advocate F.M Sabir and a tribal notable Malik Noor Khan.
These petitioners have challenged different aspects of drone strikes in the tribal areas including any agreement between the two governments for giving legal sanction to these strikes; number of people killed in the strikes including innocent women and children; damage to public property and response of government and armed forces; etc.
The petitioners have requested the court to make public any secret deal between the governments of Pakistan and the USA; order the government to stop drone strikes by force; declare that drone strikes were against sovereignty of Pakistan; order government to take the issue to the UN Security Council and pay compensation to the people killed in the strikes.
During one of the previous hearings the court was informed by the ministry of defence that there was no verbal or written agreement between Pakistan and the US governments that allowed drone strikes as the attacks were in violation of the sovereignty of the country.
Mr Mohmand once again reiterated that the federal government had no agreement with the US regarding drone strikes and those were carried out against the consent of the government. He pointed out that even the parliament had adopted resolution against it but the US government had not been respecting the sovereignty of Pakistan.
Advocate Moazam Butt appeared for DPC, Barrister Shehzad Akbar for the FFR and F.M Sabir appeared in person. They contended that the strikes were carried out in violation of international law.
The bench directed the petitioners to prepare their case on the line of international as well as domestic laws so that proper compensation could also be provided to the victims families. The bench ordered them to study different conventions including the Geneva Convention and assist the court if any violation of international law was taking place through those attacks.
The bench fixed March 7 for next hearing and observed that it would also examine the status of former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf as respondent in the cases because he was already declared proclaimed offender in certain other cases.