Pak journalist serves legal notices on 3 US officials
MABAD A Pakistani journalist based in North Waziristan Agency has served legal notices, for the damages amounting to $500 million, on top three US officials for carrying out drone attacks in Pakistans bordering areas and killing his family members.
Kareem Khan, a journalist by profession, through his counsel has served legal notices on US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Leon Panetta, and CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Banks through US embassy in Pakistan. The legal experts have considered the notices as the first ever legal notices that have been served on top US officials holding them responsible for carrying drone attacks in the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan.
Kareem disclosed this in a jam-packed press conference along with his counsel, Mirza Shahzad Akbar at the National Press Club amid presence of national and international media. The journalists brother, Asif Iqbal, his son, Zaenullah Khan along with a mason were killed in a drone attack on 31st of December, 2009 in Village Machikhel, Tehsil Mir Ali of North Waziristan. Asif Iqbal, a schoolteacher by profession, had graduated in English Literature from National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad while Zaenullah Khan was employed as a helping staff in a local school. The horrible incident took place when missiles were fired by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) also known as 'drone on the 'Hujra, situated within the four walls of the ancestral house of Khan.
Kareem, during the press conference, said that all the three persons killed in the drone attack were innocent and had nothing to do with the 'so-called war on terror, saying it was an extra-judicial killing by all means. My house was severely damaged and that Hujra converted into rubble, he informed.
He through his counsel alleged that CIA acted on faulty intelligence gathered from locals who were given money in return.
The legal notice, a copy of which is available with The Nation, served on the US officials stated that CIA officials, being non-diplomat and non-armed forces members were operating drone attacks in Pakistan.
The notice stated that CIA Director, Leon Panetta admitted the command and control of drone attacks in Pakistan as he was reported in the media saying that 'Drone attacks were precise and limited in terms of collateral damage. Our clients case is a clear contradiction of what Panetta is proudly saying, the legal notice added. Khan also challenged the precision of drone attacks specially questioned the precision of 31st of December 2009 attack wherein CIA took three innocent lives in a clandestine manner.
Kareem Khan through his counsel has said that no law, custom or authority gave CIA the permission to carry out killings in the sovereign territory of another country, saying it was the illegal act of CIA and US. He has termed the drone attack on his house a clear violation of UNs Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the fundamental rights given to the citizens of Pakistan through the Constitution.
The counsel for Khan has through the notice said, Our client demands of you to immediately stop drone attacks in Pakistan saving any future loss of innocent lives and to pay to him the sum of USD 500 millions as compensation money for the loss caused to our client within 14 days from receipt of this notice. The notice said that Khan would be entitled to institute proceedings in the court of law for the recovery of the referred sum if the respondents failed to reply the notice within stated time period.
Kareem Khan in the press conference said that drone attacks were carried out in the tribal areas by CIA from Langley, Virgina, USA and CIAs Islamabad Station Chief, Jonathan Banks coordinated such intelligence through the network of on ground spies. He also requested the Federal Government through the Ministry of Interior to put Jonathon Bankss name on the exit control list (ECL) till the settlement of the issue after his legal claim. He maintained that Banks was not a US diplomat therefore he did not enjoy diplomatic immunity and his involvement in execution of his son and brother simply made him a murderer who was to be taken to task. He also requested Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take suo moto notice of the matter and order Pakistans Government to protect its citizens from the American aggression.
Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the counsel for Khan, during the press conference said that he would pursue the case in a civil court of Islamabad and such notices could also be served on Pakistani officials for their alleged involvement. He termed it the responsibility of the US to respect the Pakistans court once the proceedings were initiated.