General Pervez Musharraf. – File photo

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court put former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf on notice on Wednesday in four writ petitions against US drone attacks.

A bench comprising acting Chief Justice Miftauddin Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth directed one of the petitioners, Advocate F.M. Sabir, to submit fresh addresses of Gen Musharraf so that the notice could be served on him.

Mr Sabir said he had already submitted two known addresses to the court, the personal residence of Gen Musharraf at Chak Shehzad in Islamabad, and the head office of his party All Pakistan Muslim League.

Deputy Attorney General Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand and Additional Political Agent of North Waziristan Zaheeruddin Babar produced a sealed envelope before the bench, stating that in accordance with an earlier order of the court the administration had prepared a report which included details of each and every drone attack and the number, names and ages of the people killed.

The court observed that the proper procedure was to submit the report in the high court office concerned to make it part of the record. It directed the deputy attorney general to submit the sealed report to the office within a week.

Besides Advocate Sabir, the petitioners have been the Defence of Pakistan Council and its leaders; the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FER) and Malik Noor Khan, a tribal notable.

The petitioners have raised different aspects of drone attacks in tribal areas, including any agreement between Pakistan and the US giving legal sanction to such strikes; the number of people, including innocent women and children, killed in the strikes; damage caused to public property; the response of the government and armed forces; etc.

The petitioners have requested the court to make public any secret deal between the governments of Pakistan and the US; order the government to stop drone strikes by force; declare that the drone strikes were against sovereignty of Pakistan; order the government to take the issue to the UN Security Council; pay compensation to people killed in the strikes; etc.

When the bench took up the petitions for hearing, Mr Sabir contended that on his application the court had made Gen Musharraf a respondent because these strikes had started when he was in power. He said that in previous hearings Advocate Moazam Butt had claimed that he would represent Gen Musharraf but so far he could not produce any power of attorney.

Mr Sabir requested that arrest warrants of Gen Musharraf should be issued to force him to appear before the court.

The bench observed that it would first issue a notice to Gen Musharraf and the next step would be taken if he failed to respond.

Mr Sabir presented photocopies of some pictures claiming that these were of victims of drone attacks and said they were mostly women and children.

Advocate Fazal Malik Kakakhel appeared for Malik Noor Khan and the FER and said that the drone attacks were not only a violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan but also in conflict with the international law. He pointed out that even if there was a secret agreement between the two governments on the matter it was illegal and unconstitutional because the state of Pakistan had no authority to allow another state to kill its citizens, including women and children.

Mr Kakakhel said Malik Daud Khan, the father of Malik Noor Khan, had been killed in a drone attack on Nov 20, 2011, when a jirga was targeted in North Waziristan.

The federal government, through the defence secretary, filed its comments a few months ago stating that the government had recorded its protest at different international forums and consistently condemned the drone attacks on the soil of Pakistan, including Fata, and had demanded that the Nato forces should stop them.

The comments submitted by director (legal) of the ministry of defence, M. Hussain Shahbaz, stated that the armed forces of Pakistan had no record about any agreement about US drone strikes inside Pakistan.

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