Drone-fare: A clueless rant

Published: June 28, 2013
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Political discourse seems to direct the drone debate to more ‘peaceful’ solutions. I don’t think it will go that way, though. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

As a Pakistani, it is safe to be ranting out against drones. However, if you happen to be an international relations graduate, you are often at loggerheads with your patriotism and reality.

The question of legality concerning drones is a myriad of crisp talks and writings. The major issues encircling the drone debate, under international law’s spectrum, are questions regarding national sovereignty and targeted killings.

It is common knowledge now (bless the Wikileaks!) that under the mutual agreement between the then US administration and former president Pervez Musharraf,  Islamabad was obliged to provide the relevant information for the predator drones to hit their strikes. Obviously, you don’t expect the US to just blindly conduct military operations without any inside information!

Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan said, a state, which cannot control an activity of aggression by another state in the country, then by default, it gives up its own right to sovereignty. Others like Professor Mary Kaldor and National Defence University director James Larocco believe that we have entered into a stateless era, whereby counter-terrorism initiatives are against the Al Qaeda network and its affiliates, not against a state.

Under the framework of international human rights law, it is unlawful to indulge in any form of targeted killings.  Lethal force is allowed only when your life is under immediate threat, or as self-defense. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ Article 10 and the US Bill of Rights’ Article 6 grant an individual the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, with the right to a fair and legal trial. An impartial judiciary and a speedy trial are an inalienable, indivisible and universal human right.

On May 29, the drone strike that hit Taliban deputy chief Waliur Rahman led to the killings of nine tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan in an act of revenge. Drone-fare has the potential of further instigating anti-Americanism and sympathies for the militant warriors defending the pure lands of Pakistan. Even though drones have been quite precise in uprooting top Al Qaeda affiliates and the Taliban, a military operation would have led to far more casualties and costly expenses. So it would be better to devise a strategy that would actually work.

Ben Emmerson’s investigations into the human impact of the drone-fare, President Barack Obama’s  May 23 speech and Pakistani officials lashing out against it, seem to direct the drone debate to all the more ‘peaceful’ solutions. At least, let’s hope it does. I really don’t think it will, though.

Hifza Jillani

Hifza Jillani

A Sub-editor for the Karachi City desk at The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.