Islamabad: Former Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations Major General (retd) Athar Abbas has said that the US drone attacks create difficulties for the Pakistan army in the tribal region near Afghan border.
He was speaking at a round-table-conference organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday in Islamabad. Prominet among others who attended the conference included defence analyst Ejaz Haider, defence analyst Sikandar Shah and social worker Navid Shinwari. The speakers stressed the need for a strategy in addressing the concerns regarding the US drone.
Abbas said that a cause of opposing the drone attacks was that the army and its intelligence services had the ability to take action against armed mercenaries in the restive region.
The former DG of army’s media wing conceded that Pakistan army could not win public support since the decisions taken on tribal areas before 2008 were not ideal. He said the army achieved success in Swat and some tribal areas after army and the civilian government developed consensus in taking decision regarding war against militancy.
Ali Sarwar Naqvi Former Ambassador and Executive Director, Center for International Strategic Studies highlighted increasing militarization of US foreign policy decision making and said, lately pentagon has dictated the US foreign policy on issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Shinwari shared the findings of their study which reveals that majority of people in Fata are against drone strikes and favored Pakistan Army operation to clean up militants from their areas.
Navid Shinvari also said that though he had been supporting the drone attacks since they killed several al-Qaeda figures, they were also making tribesmen to continue their armed resistance.
He said that although the local tribes had been opposing the army operation out rightly in the beginning , now they had started supporting the military in its efforts against militancy.
He also said that, in earlier days, field commanders of Pakistan Army didn’t opposed use of drone to take out adversaries if they were used sparingly, conducted mutually and were based on hundred percent matured intelligence
Ejaz Haider, Senior Advisor, SDPI started the discussion and raised various policy points while elaborating operational and strategic concerns. “Is Pakistan opposing drone as a weapon of war or the way USA is using drone is the reason for dissent? “ he questioned. He said, there is no way US can give drone technology to Pakistan as it involves access to sophisticated satellite network which is not possible at any stage.
Presiding over the conference Ejaz Haider said that neglecting violation of Pakistan sovereignty in the shape of tolerating US drone attacks would be tantamount to contempt of country’s sovereignty.
Sikandar Shah said that every country had the right of self defence and it could move United Nation’s Security Council if any country violate its sovereignty.
According to official release of SDPI “there is need for clear international legal, operational and ethical framework for the use of drone strikes in any part of the world, stated participants of a round table discussion on drone strike in Pakistan here on Tuesday.”
Roundtable discussion titled “Drone Strikes: Are Operational Concerns Guiding Strategy?” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and attended by renowned analysts discussed the legality of drones, and their use at political, strategic and operational levels.
Dr Maria Sultan, Director General,SASSI called the drone strikes as unethical, illegal and a severe violation of international law. Highlighting lack of transparency and accountability in drone strikes, she said, international law does not allow spy agencies to conduct militarized operation in sovereign countries. She said, legal and operational use of drones is inter-coined which entails the nature of weapon and its legal jurisdiction to be used anywhere in the world.
Renowned journalist and media analyst, Zahid Hussain, said that it was important to discuss legalities of drone war which was un-acknowledged so far, until last year when US, officially admitted drone operations in Pakistan. He said, Pakistan’s moral stance on drone gets weaker every time when a killing of some important Al-Qaida leader is hailed in Pakistan. We also need to hold ourselves accountable for compromising sovereignty before criticizing USA for violation of our sovereignty, he added.
Professor Sikandar Shah from LUMS said that according to international law, invitation from the targeted country and the right of self defense with certain legalities are the only two ways through which drone strikes can be justified on sovereign countries. These prepositions, he said, make drone strikes totally illegal in Pakistan.