Use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan: deadly, but legal?
Unmanned aerial drones have become important weapons in the US counterterrorism effort. But questions are mounting about who controls the drones, and what laws govern their use.
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Within Pakistan, the laws governing predator attacks have never been made clear, as Ashfaq Ahmed writes in an opinion piece for Gulf News, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates.Skip to next paragraph
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In fact it seems the government has a dual policy: its officials, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, condemn the US strikes in public, but there are reports of intelligence being shared behind the scenes to facilitate drone attacks.
US officials have shrugged off the public protest, saying that the drone strikes are carried out under an agreement with Islamabad that allows Pakistani leaders to oppose the attacks in public.
Pakistan clearly needs a transparent and bold policy on this issue.
Since 2008, some 360 people have been killed in 42 drone attacks in Pakistan, many of them civilians, according to Dawn News. Dawn reports that US officials hope the strike on Mr. Mehsud, one of Pakistan's most-wanted enemies, will persuade Pakistan to look more favorably on drone strikes. (Click here to read the The Christian Science Monitor's briefing on drones as weapons of war.)
Mr. Ahmed argues that, to avoid the public outcry that the civilian deaths cause, the US should give Pakistan the drones, and Pakistan should frame the appropriate laws to use them.
For now, the US seems unlikely to do that. But evidence suggests the US is sharing more information on drone attacks with their Pakistani counterparts, according to the Associated Press.
Last year U.S. and Pakistan military officials met in a secret session in which Pakistani leaders agreed to target al-Qaida operatives in return for greater U.S. action against militant tribal leaders such as Mehsud who were a more significant threat to Pakistan.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has traveled to Pakistan no fewer than 13 times in the past two years, meeting with his military counterparts to foster better coordination.