Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday.
“Pakistan and the United States have a strong ongoing counterterrorism cooperation. We have agreed to further strengthen this cooperation. I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes,” said Sharif.
Obama said nothing about the drone attacks.
He said that the two “agreed that we need to continue to find constructive ways to partner together — ways that respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries. And I’m optimistic that we can continue to make important strides in moving forward because both the Pakistani people and the American people have suffered terribly from terrorism in the past. More Pakistani civilians have been killed, obviously, from some of these terrorist attacks than anybody, and so I know that the Prime Minister is very much committed to trying to reduce these incidents of terrorism inside of Pakistan’s borders, and the degree to which these activities may be exported to other countries.It’s a challenge. It’s not easy. And we are committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, that it can be a source of strength for us, working together in a constructive and a respectful way.”
Sharif’s demand to Obama came days after a new report released by Amnesty International denounced that the USA has carried out unlawful killings in Pakistan through drone attacks in a report.
The report, “’Will I be next?’ US drone strikes in Pakistan”, documents recent killings in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas and the almost complete absence of transparency around the US drone program, said Amnesty International in a press release.
The report was released in a joint news conference with Human Rights Watch, which issued its own report on drone and other air strikes in Yemen.
Amnesty International reviewed all 45 known drone strikes that took place in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan between January 2012 and August 2013. The region that has seen more strikes than any other part of the country.
The organization conducted detailed field research into nine of these strikes, with the report documenting killings of non combatants, which raise serious questions about violations of international law that could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions.
International law prohibits arbitrary killing and limits the lawful use of intentional lethal force to exceptional situations. In armed conflict, only combatants and people directly participating in hostilities may be directly targeted. Outside armed conflict, intentional lethal force is lawful only when strictly unavoidable to protect against an imminent threat to life . In some circumstances arbitrary killing can amount to a war crime or extrajudicial execution, which are crimes under international law.
Drone attacks in Pakistan
Human Rights Watch