ISLAMABAD - Central Information Secretary Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shireen Mazari strongly criticised the government and the Interior Minister for giving what are clearly incorrect figures on drone killings. It is shameful how, as a result of Ch Nisar’s drone deaths’ figure, even the US media is claiming that the Pakistan government seems to be on the same page as the CIA.
While the UN and international NGOs have claimed a high killing rate of civilians in US drone strikes, the present government is giving figures, which do not tally with any independent assessments. For instance, Mazari pointed to an Amnesty Report, which had concluded that at least 19 civilians were killed in just two drone strikes in 2012, including a woman in North Waziristan who was in a field with her grandchildren.
But the new official Pakistani figures stated that no civilians were killed in North Waziristan in 2012 or this year. Yet the surviving family members of this family gave their account of the drone killings to Congress just as Ch. Nisar was deceiving the people of Pakistan.
Mazari said it is absolutely unacceptable to find such brazen complicity on the part of the government with the US when there is a national consensus against drones and the murder of civilians. The Peshawar High Court judgment of May 2013 not only declared drones illegal under a number of international laws but also termed these as a war crime. Mazari pointed out that the PHC in its judgment cited that 3000 Pakistani civilians had died in drone attacks between 2004-2013.
Yet, our Ministry of Defense released figures to lawmakers saying that 67 civilians were among 2,227 people killed in 317 drone strikes since 2008. The remainder of those killed were labelled “Islamist militants”. This is a civilian casualty rate of just 3 percent which is clearly a lie since earlier official rate was much higher as were the estimates by international organisations including the UN - with civilian casualty rates of 6 percent or higher.
PTI has consistently demanded the govt identify all drone victims by name but there is a shocking disregard for the lives of Pakistani civilians in FATA and this government is following the tradition of duplicity practiced by its predecessors on drones and those killed in this illegal US aggressive action against a supposed ally.
The figures represented a civilian casualty rate of about 3 percent, falling far below earlier estimates from independent groups - and other government departments - that reported a rate of 6 percent and higher over the same period. Recently, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism, Ben Emmerson, also stated that he had been given contradictory figures by the government of Pakistan.
Mazari declared that the issue is not casualty rates in any case since the killing of even one innocent civilian should be unacceptable to the government, which is duty bound to protect all its citizens under the Constitution.
She said that it is apparent the Sharif visit to the US has brought with it all manner of covert compromises especially on drones and this is being reflected in the false statements being given on drones including civilian casualty rates in the illegal and inhumane drone killings of innocent citizens of Pakistan.
PTI demands the government reveal the true figures of civilian deaths due to drones, identify all the victims by name and implement the PHC resolution. “The callous disregard for the lives of Pakistanis living in FATA is indeed shameful as is the continuing covert collusion between the Pakistani state and the US over drones. This shows where the loyalties of the government lie and it is a clear violation of Article 9 of the Constitution,” Mazari added.