A view of the National Assembly. — File photo
A view of the National Assembly. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The government informed the National Assembly on Monday that 339 drone attacks had been recorded in the country since 2004, according to findings of a number of unofficial organisations which followed America’s policy to use drones worldwide. A written answer submitted to the house in response to a question said that 400 civilians had died in the tribal belt as a result of the attacks. There was no mention of the number of terrorists killed.

The focus of the answer was on how the government disapproved of the attacks, termed them a violation of the country’s sovereignty and was building pressure through likeminded organisations, countries and the UN against their legitimacy.

Minister of State Khurram Dastagir Khan was filling in for the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

Nabil Gabol of the MQM criticised Mr Aziz’s continuous absence from the house and asked the speaker to ensure his attendance in view of the importance of his ministry.

To a flurry of questions in which members sought a clarification whether the government had any underhand understanding with the US government to allow the use of drones in the tribal areas, Mr Khan’s categorical answer was ‘no’.

He said the government hadn’t found any written agreement between Pakistan and the US on the use of drones, but it could be safely assumed that the previous two governments led by the PML-Q and PPP had silently agreed, hence they never forcefully raised the issue.

Dr Shireen Mazari of the PTI asked if there was no such agreement, why the government did not take adequate measures to stop drones from entering the country’s airspace.

“Pakistan and the US have a broad-based relationship and considering its importance the government is trying to resolve the issue of drone attacks,” the minister said.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party urged the government to tell the people why it couldn’t stop the Americans from using drones in the country.

The prime minister in his first speech in the National Assembly on June 5 had reaffirmed his party’s stance that drone attacks must end. The Foreign Office lodged a strong protest with the US government against recent drone strikes.

During a recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan the issue was discussed in detail, the minister said, claiming that since then the frequency of the attacks had decreased.

He said Pakistan’s stance had been endorsed by UN Counter-Terrorism Special Rapporteur Ben Emerson who said during his visit to Pakistan in March that the drone attacks violated the country’s sovereignty and had resulted in the death of around 400 civilians.

On Aug 19, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay told a Security Council meeting on protection of civilians that “the current lack of transparency surrounding their (drone) use creates an accountability vacuum and affects the ability of victims to seek redress”.

She said she was “seriously concerned about human rights implications for the protection of civilians from armed drone strikes carried out in the context of counter-terrorism and military operations, including in Pakistan and Yemen”.

Replying to other questions, Mr Khan said the army was adequately responding to unprovoked firing by India from across the Line of Control in Kashmir, but the government was against escalating the tension. “We have raised the issue at all available forums.”

Updated Aug 27, 2013 06:11am

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Comments (11) (Closed)


Abdul Waheed
Aug 27, 2013 06:37am

I am appalled by yet another lie by the government pf Pakistan. I was expecting better from this government. For the citizens of Pakistan, it does not matter who is ruling the country as the true masters never change. We should accept that we are all slaves ruled by our masters. I cannot even comprehend how the number of civilian deaths add up to 400. I remember that just in one incident close to one hundred innocent civilians (most of them children) were massacred by a drone strike. How can only 400 people be killed in 339 such attacks. There is not a single attack where multiple people were not massacred. Let us just accept our destiny and stop complaining.

Amir
Aug 27, 2013 06:58am

No insane person can justify the death of 400 people who are t here because it is their home. This is about 20 percent of total American casualties (about 2000, source Wikipedia) in the Afghan war.

christopher
Aug 27, 2013 09:55am

Yes this is sad, . During the same period how many civilians have been killed by the talib and their suicide bombers ? I hate the fact that a drone missle killed a mother and child along with the terrorist sleeping with them. I also hate the idea of the 30 people killed in a Market by a 12 yr old child high on heroin and religious brainwashing, wearing a suicide vest .

malik
Aug 27, 2013 10:05am

Question they need to be asking is how many civilians (and military men) have been killed by the terrorists. It has become a fashion to talk against the drones all the time ( Thanks to IK).

Khalid Mehmood
Aug 27, 2013 10:21am

400 Pakistani Civilians killed by drones attacks,where is United Nation,why you are not sending your represetative in Pakistan,why 400 civilians were killed,can United Nation give the answer why 400 civilians killed,why they more interested in Syrian peoples

Zarghun Shah
Aug 27, 2013 11:26am

And how many civilians have been killed in ongoing war waged by Pakistan military in all the tribal areas? It is in thousands. And how much misery has been caused to the people who are uprooted forcibly by the army and made refugees. Not a single political party in Pakistan owes up to this open but hidden and undeclared war. There is no discussion of merits or its consequences in any forum. But all these political parties are clamouring about drone attacks which in fact are aided and abetted by our military.

Murtaza
Aug 27, 2013 11:34am

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2013/01/03/obama-2013-pakistan-drone-strikes/

Im amazed no one in the NA has access to google and seeks information on their own. There is so much validated independent data available.

Why is Dawn just reporting what happened but not holding these sessions accountable. Why is partial and incomplete information being provided to Parliamentarians. Shame

Junaid Hashmat
Aug 27, 2013 12:50pm

400 civilians ! Well if we take this report to be true than it means that at least 300 tribal families. To my knowledge the tribal families are treble compound families. Man power in tribal families ranging from minimum 20 to maximum 50. Keep in mind the custom of revenge and you will get the outcome of drone strikes.

Asif
Aug 27, 2013 05:34pm

Khoda pahaar nikla chooha!!

SC
Aug 27, 2013 06:11pm

All 400 deaths of civilians in Pakistan, many more in different parts of earth due to terror strike, and many deaths of terrorists and security forces, could have been avoided if certain elements in Pakistan had not given birth to and encouraged terrorism. The sin of all such deaths occurred so far and will occur in future goes to Pakistan administration.

khanm
Aug 27, 2013 06:57pm

killing a person is a murder. killing them in masses is a strategy. There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.