After something of a lull, US drone strikes have returned with a vengeance to Pakistan over the past two weeks, the latest of which, killed six people this afternoon. In addition strikes have taken place on 10th, 12th, 13th and 16 May. According to the Pakistan Observer, 238 people have been killed and 40 injured in 39 drone strikes in Pakistan since 1st Jan 2011 (excluding today’s strike). The Oxford Research Group has today issued an interesting paper examining the various casualty figures reported for drone strikes in Pakistan.
This weekend, thousands of Pakistanis are expected to respond to Imran Khan’s call to protest the drone strikes by blocking NATO supply routes through Pakistan for forces in Afghanistan. A protest will also take place outside the US embassy in London tomorrow (21st May) and UK Pakistanis plan to protest drone attacks during President Obama’s speech to UK Parliament on May 25th.
Meanwhile US Attorney General, Eric Holder, told Channel 4 news this week that US drone strikes in Pakistan were totally consistent with International law:
“Anybody who is the target of any of our military action is always thought to be somebody who is thought to be a threat to the US, so there is a basis to any of the action we take, on the battlefield, in the variety of ways that we do it.”
His suggestion, that It is lawful to kill someone who is merely thought to be a threat would be laughable, if it were not so awful. However, as Tara McKelvey points out in an excellent article for the Colombia Journalism Review on the reporting of drone strikes, many journalists seem to meekly accept these bland assurances. Challenging her fellow journalists, McKelvey suggests that
“A more whole-hearted pushback is in order, with top newsrooms banding together, backed by their legal departments, to try to force a more substantive and open public policy debate on whom and how the US decides to kill with the push of a button.”
Well, we can only hope
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