The fabric of life in Waziristan has been ripped apart by the constant fear and suspicion the perpetual buzzing of drones overhead. Madrassahs, mosques, bakeries, and marketplaces have been targeted, people are afraid to gather even in prayer or for funerals, and psychiatric disorders are commonplace. There has been a lack of transparency with respect to the Pakistani government’s position on these strikes – FFR advocates for the equal application of the rule of law in all areas of Pakistan.
While there may be differing legal interpretations of the legality of drone strikes, particularly where countries have not declared war, we challenge the use of drone warfare based on the principles of due process and accountability, which are at the foundation of the rule of law. Drone assassinations violate international and domestic law, negate due process, and violate the principle that everyone is innocent before the law until proven guilty.
Rescuer StrikesDrone operators employ similar tactics to terrorists in their use of “rescuer” or “double tap ” strikes, where operators fire consecutive strikes on the same spot, killing or injuring rescuers who come to assist the initial strike's wounded victims.
Signature StrikesUntil 2013 drone operators fired on people whose identities they did not know basing their target choices on patters (patterns?) of ‘suspicious' behaviour. Exactly what qualifies as legal justification for targeting unidentified individuals or as suspicious patterns of behaviour egregious enough to warrant an immediate death sentence, has not been disclosed by the United States. For the drone operators any military age male is a legitimate target and a presumed enemy combatant, which also results in a skewed definition of ‘civilian victims’.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are a group of small administrative units in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and the neighbouring country of Afghanistan. They comprise of seven tribal agencies and six smaller frontier regions including north and south Waziristan.
The Constitution of Pakistan governs FATA through rules left by the British in 1901 – the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The FCR was declared ‘black law’ by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1995, however the legislature has failed to provide the tribal people with a system of governance ensuring rights of individuals in the constitution. The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts of Pakistan do not extend directly to FATA and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), according to Article 247 and 248 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly has no power in FATA, and can only exercise its powers in PATA. The assembly cannot implement the law directly as it can do in other parts of the province or Settled Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This has created a political vacuum in FATA, Frontier Regions and PATA. Such lawless conditions as the absence of government departments such as the police, judiciary and local government or civic amenities, are said to serve the interests of terrorists. There are no civil, sessions or Higher courts of Pakistan in Tribal Areas.
Armed conflict in the region began in 2004 as a consequence of the war in Afghanistan and for the last seven years, drone strikes have repeatedly been carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles as part of the war against terror. In this hunt for suspected militants, the number of civilian deaths is largely speculative. Attacks are conducted based upon dubious reporting by local agencies and contractors. There is no declared war, yet the State seems to have given its consent to these attacks. We at FFR strive to represent the innocent citizens of Waziristan, to whom the constitutional rights of this country duly extend.