Twenty-four hours after the release of CIA man Raymond Davis, a US drone strike has killed more than 40 people, mostly civilians, in North Waziristan. Protests and a nationwide strike have been called for Friday.
CIA ‘contractor’ Raymond Davis was released from prison after the murder charges against him were dropped following the payment of ‘blood money’ to relatives of the victims. Davis, named by The Guardian as a CIA spy, had shot dead two men – Faizan Haider and Mohammad Faheemin – in disputed circumstances in Lahore. A third man, Muhammad Yameen, was killed by a US embassy car speeding to the scene to rescue Davis. The widow of Mohammad Faheemin, Shumaila Kanwal,committed suicide soon after.
The killings caused outrage in Pakistan coming on top of the hated CIA drone strikes and there were public demonstrations calling for Davis to be hanged. Meanwhile the US put enormous pressure on Pakistan to release Davis arguing that he had diplomatic status. Aid budgets were threatened and the drone strikes were halted – at least for the first month of his incarceration – in an attempt not to further inflame anger.
Wednesday’s agreement to accept the multi-million dollar compensation by relatives of the dead men was apparently done under duress, with the family’s lawyer under detention. The relatives have now left Pakistan and disappeared.
Thursday’s drone strike, on a tribal meeting near Miranshah, in which 41 people are known to have died, (some reports suggesting up to 80 victims) has been condemned by many including the Pakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayaniv. As Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com reports:
The casualties from the attack included six tribal elders who were overseeing the jirga, which was apparently to discuss the ownership of mineral rights, a number of children who were brought by their families to the gathering, and several members of a pro-government militia the tribe helped organize.
The US has announced that it will close its embassy on Friday in anticipation of nationwide protests.