ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office expressed on Friday shock at the death of two western hostages in a US drone attack in tribal areas in January and recalled its criticism of the US drone war for causing collateral damage.
“The news of the accidental killing of two western hostages, Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, in the US drone strike conducted in January this year has been received in Pakistan with shock and sorrow. The people and government of Pakistan convey their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.
A day earlier, United States President Barack Obama had disclosed that the two hostages were killed in a drone attack on an Al Qaeda compound in Pakistani territory. He had also conceded that the official who had authorised the strike had not exercised discretion about the likely presence of civilians around the targeted compound.
“The death of Mr Weinstein and Mr Lo Porto in a drone strike demonstrates the risk and unintended consequences of the use of this technology that Pakistan has been highlighting for a long time,” the Foreign Office said.
Various Pakistani statements on US drone attacks in the past had said: “The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications.”
The issue of civilian casualties has been a major point of criticism of the US drone strikes. There have been varying figures about the civilian casualties caused by the attacks.
In a policy statement on the drone war on May 23, 2013 at the US National Defence University, President Obama, while speaking about the civilian deaths, had said: “The terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.”
“Having lost thousands of innocent civilians in the war against terrorism, Pakistan can fully understand this tragic loss and stands with the families of Weinstein and Lo Porto in this difficult time,” the FO said.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015