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Verdict on drone attacks

May 22, 2013

THE new government’s policy on drone attacks has become a topic of discussion after elections in Pakistan. Perhaps most people are either unaware or have forgotten the judgment of the Peshawar High Court given a few days before the elections.

This judgment has already decided the matter. The government has now the only option of implementing the same. A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, ruled the drone strikes illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter on human rights.

The court said the strikes must be declared a war crime as they killed innocent people. The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future, the court said in its judgment.

It asked the foreign ministry to table a resolution in the UN against the US attacks and if the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US.

The verdict also said that Pakistan’s security forces were authorised to shoot down the drones. It may be mentioned here that the Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court also headed the bench that disqualified Gen Musharraf from taking part in elections on a petition challenging only his nomination papers.

As reported in Dawn (May 19), Chief Justice Dost Muhammad declared in a speech that the people used their right to vote to take revenge on the parties forming the last government and the new political dispensation should bear in mind that they will face same public treatment in case of failure to address their misery.

Whether the judiciary has encroached upon the domain of the executive or whether it has entered the political arena in view of the above facts must be discussed thoroughly and a way found to avoid a clash of institutions.

However, as the situation stands now, if the Pakistan government fails to implement the judgment, the new prime minister will be guilty of contempt of court and liable to be disqualified like former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.