There is “strong evidence” that top members of Pakistan’s military,government and intelligence service gave their active consent and approval to CIA drone strikes in the country’s lawless tribal areas between June 2004 and June 2008,according to a UN report.
The report by the Special Rapporteur on the ‘Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism’ Ben Emmerson will be submitted to the UN General Assembly on Thursday and is an interim report on the use of remotely piloted aircraft in counter-terrorism operations.
The report comes as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met President Barack Obama in Washington this week and urged him to “end” such strikes on Pakistani soil.
In the 24-page UN report,Emmerson said,”as regards Pakistan,there is strong evidence to suggest that between June 2004 and June 2008 remotely piloted aircraft strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were conducted with the active consent and approval of senior members of the Pakistani military and intelligence service,and with at least the acquiescence and,in some instances,the active approval of senior government figures.”
According to statistics given to Emmerson by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March this year,there have been at least 330 drone strikes in the FATA areas since 2004 which resulted in about 2,200 deaths and 600 injuries.
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Of these,at least 400 civilians had been killed in the drone strikes and a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants,” figures that are “likely to be an underestimate.
The UN report adds that continued use of drones amounts to a “violation” of Pakistani sovereignty,unless justified under the international law principle of self-defence.
The report has identified 33 sample remotely piloted aircraft strikes that appear to have resulted in civilian casualties.
While the fact that civilians have been killed or injured does not necessarily point to a violation of international humanitarian law,it undoubtedly raises issues of accountability and transparency, it added.
The US maintains that the drone strikes are targeted at specific terrorists. However,the Pakistan government claims that most of the victims of drone hits are civilians.