Pak - US Relations

Pak – US Relations Part – 7

Permission to CIA against usage of drones

President Pervez Musharraf was scared by President Bush’s clear ultimatum on November 6, 2001, so he quietly gave the CIA permission to use unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to target “terrorists” in Pakistan from Shamsi Airfield. He wanted Pakistan to be in charge of the drones, but the US did not agree. In 2004, drone strikes were started by the US Air Force. They were run by the CIA’s Special Activities Division. It had done hundreds of raids by 2018, most of them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which are near the border with Afghanistan. There was a lot of coordination between these activities and drone campaigns in Afghanistan just across the border.

The US said that the attacks were “precise” and that no bystanders were hurt because of this. But that was not the case. The strikes did cause a lot of unintended damage, which led to them being criticised and blamed in the end. On June 3, 2009, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) criticised the US for not “keeping track of civilian casualties from its military operations, including drone attacks.” First, the US questioned the UNHRC’s “jurisdiction over US military actions.” Then, it said that the “military was investigating any wrongdoing and doing all it could to provide information about the deaths,” which it never did. On October 27, 2009, Philip Alston, an investigator for the UNHRC, criticised the US for not responding to the UN’s concerns. He also asked the US to ensure that it was not breaking international law by killing people randomly with drones on the Afghan border. “Otherwise,” he said, “you have the problem that the CIA is running a programme that kills a lot of people and there is no accountability under international law.” In a report he gave to the UNHRC on June 3, 2010, he said that the US was the country that used targeted killings the most.

“The Pakistani government had been doing two things at once. They kept giving the US secret permission to attack, even though they said they didn’t like it”

Formation of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

After the Salala debacle (November 26, 2011), the drone strikes stopped right away. In December 2011, the US turned Shamshi Airfield over to the Pakistan Air Force. But it took seven months to talk about restarting land routes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but it only took two months for the US to get Shamsi Airbase back. On January 10, 2012, the drone attacks started up again. In the first week of June 2012, Navi Pillay, who is the head of the UN’s human rights office, went to Pakistan. He asked for new investigations into the “random” drone strikes, which he said were “violations of human rights.” In response, on June 18, 2012, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, released a critical report in which he called on the US to explain why it uses targeted killings instead of trying to catch the suspected Al-Qaida and Taliban members. In March 2013, the UN’s Special Rapporteur, Ben Emerson, went to Pakistan to look into civilian deaths. He also said that the strikes were “an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty.” But it wasn’t until May 2013 that the US government said in public that it supported the “drone war.” It put all of the blame on Pakistan and said that it couldn’t “control and keep track of terrorist activities.” So, under Article 51 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, it had no choice but to use drone strikes in self-defense. In a speech he gave at the National Defence University on May 23, 2013, President Obama said, “We act against terrorists who pose a continuing and immediate threat to the American people and when no other government is able to deal with the threat effectively.”

Up until that point, each Pakistani government had been doing the same thing. They kept giving the US secret permission to attack, even though they said they didn’t agree with it. In fact, they “not only agreed informally to the drone flights, but also asked the U.S. to do more of them in 2008.” Amnesty International “strongly condemned the strikes” in October 2013. It said that some of the strikes could be seen as illegal killings and war crimes because of the number of civilians who died without reason and because Pakistan’s sovereignty was broken. In December 2013, the walkout ended. In May 2014, it was said that the “drone war” was “pretty much over.” But the strikes kept going until 2018, even though they were much smaller. The CIA and other sources have different numbers for how many militants and civilians have died. The CIA’s figures are based on a controversial method that “counts all males of military age in a strike zone as combatants, unless there is clear intelligence after their deaths that proves them innocent.” The New America Foundation said that 80% of terrorists had been killed. Several independent experts disagreed with this number, saying that “far fewer militants and many more civilians” had been killed. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism said that between 2004 and 2017, 429 drone attacks killed between 2,514 and 4,023 people. Of those, only 424 to 969 were civilians, including 172 to 207 children, and 1,162 to 1,749 were hurt. Pakistan said that most of the people who died were terrorists from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But a Brookings Institution story says that “drone strikes may have killed 10 or so civilians for every militant they killed.” This extra damage gave the harmless people who were hurt one more reason to turn against the government of Pakistan. Of course, the US was the main one to blame, and it was right that it was blamed and punished. Even though Pakistan was forced to join the US attack of Afghanistan, it was seen as a partner in “killing its own people.” This lack of thought is what made people in FATA hate Pakistan and led to the formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

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