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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No secret agreement signed with US on drone strikes, PHC told

PESHAWAR: The Ministry of Defence through an affidavit submitted in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) claimed that neither the federal government nor the top brass of the armed forces had inked any secret agreement with the United States to allow drones attacks in the tribal areas.

Deputy Attorney General (DAG), Muhammad Iqbal Mohmand submitted the written reply of the Ministry of Defence in the division bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth. During the previous hearing the bench had directed the DAG to explain whether they had allowed the US to carry out drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas.

The DAG told the bench there was no secret deal between the federal government and US and this was the reason it had opposed the drone strikes, taken up the matter with the US government and passed resolution in the National Assembly against these attacks.

He argued that the drone strikes in the tribal areas were in violation of the country’s sovereignty and international conventions and the government was even ready to pursue the case in the International Court of Justice.

To a query, he said the US started the drone strikes during former president Pervez Musharraf’s rule and the court should summon him and ask about any verbal or written deal on drone strikes with the US. The court had already made Musharraf a party in the petitions filed against the drone strikes and given 15 days to his lawyer Mauzzam Butt to get power of attorney from him to submit his written reply about the drone strikes.

The chief justice also directed petitioners’ counsels to study the drone attacks issue in depth both under the national and international laws as the court would be able to pass a comprehensive judgement in the US drone attacks on next hearing.

He hinted that the UN high commissioner could also be made party in the case to explain its position about the drone attacks as it was silent over the attacks and killings of innocent people.

During the previous hearing, the chief justice had observed that according to international reports, except for a few cases, innocent people were mostly being killed in drone strikes.

He had remarked that drone strikes should be stopped in response to the repeated demands by Pakistan’s top leaders, including the president, prime minister, chief of army staff and the Parliament.

The bench was hearing two petitions including one filed by PML-N’s FM Sabir and the other by the Defence of Pakistan Council and six others.


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