June 17, 2012
The United States government has made hundreds of attacks on targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),of northwest Pakistan since 2004 using drones (Unmanned aerial vehicle) controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division. These attacks are part of the United States' War on Terrorism campaign, seeking to defeat Taliban and the remnants of al-Qaeda militants having shelters and bases in Pakistan and carrying on their anti-American activities across the border.
Most of these attacks are on targets in the tribal belt along the Afghan border in northwest Pakistan. These strikes which were started during the presidency of Bush junior have increased substantially under the Presidency of Barack Obama.
Some media refer to the series of attacks as a "drone war". The covert CIA-run programme is a cause of tension and an apple of discard between the US and Pakistan. Though Pakistan has joined hands with America in the War on Terror yet these strikes have given birth to many hard feelings between these two allies.
The Pakistani public opinion has categorically rejected this interference on the part of the defender of democracy and international law. These predator drone attacks made from time to time in many parts of FATA, as a strategy aiming at destroying the bases of Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal belt of Pakistan and thus stopping and resisting terrorist attacks on US bases in Afghanistan, are, undoubtedly, a severe blow to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country.
Despite Pakistan's unconditional and full fledged support to America in this so called war on terror, it could not convince the former to respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States government is bent upon utilising this strategy regardless of the fact that these sorts of territorial interference weakens the very foundation of Pakistan as well as its status among the comity of other nations of the world.
It is estimated that since 2005, more than 3,000 people have been killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan, of them; approximately 800 were civilians and 170 children. Moreover, a recent article appearing in US magazine 'Foreign Affairs' estimated that only one out of every 7 drone attacks in Pakistan kills a militant leader. The majority of those killed in such strikes are not important insurgent commanders rather low level fighters along with a small number of civilians. Undoubtedly, the strategy of hot pursuit has been in vogue for a long time and it is endorsed as a legal and useful strategy for eradicating the bases of miscreants located in and operating from other country but this quite new and unprecedented strategy of drone attacks adopted by America is a shared violation of the sovereign right of Pakistan which is one of the most important actors and contributors of the war on terror. Since Pakistan is not at war with the United States of America so this territorial interference is the violation of international law and also the charter of the United Nations. It is believed that a secret treaty has been concluded and agreed upon between the then military government of General Pervaiz Musharraf and President Bush which has permitted America to hit any place in the tribal belt suspected of being used as a shelter by the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Legally speaking, drone strikes by the Us government in the tribal belt is a violation of the international law as well the negation of the sovereign right of Pakistan. The modern nation state which came into being in the renowned Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 has four elements i.e. population, territory, government and sovereignty. These four elements have been recognized and endorsed as the four prerequisite of any state by the international law and also the UN charter.
Historically speaking, sovereignty, both internal and external, has been the first and foremost prerequisite of a state. Without sovereignty we can not even think of state. Sovereignty has two aspects, internal and external. The external aspect of sovereignty means that the state must be capable of running its business as per its sweet will and no other state have the right to dictate it or to poke its nose in its internal activities. While the internal aspect means that the state must be free to formulate laws and to make its citizens abide by these laws and in case of any violation, the state must have the right and power to bring the violators to book.
Sovereignty is indivisible and inalienable. It is said that to divide sovereignty is to destroy sovereignty. Similarly it is said that 10 beggars can sleep under one blanket but 10 rulers cannot live in one empire which show that there cannot be two sovereigns in one state. In spite of all these characteristics, there are some limitation on sovereignty such as international law, religion, morality and also the law of nature. International law is that law which regulates interstate relations or state to state relations. All countries are bound to respect such laws and to give special importance to international law while making its national law. In other words, national laws of every state must be as per international laws. Similarly, the sovereignty of every country is limited by the religion of that country. No state can formulate such laws which are in contrast to the religion of the people of that state. Like religion, morality is another limitation on sovereignty. Every country is to keep in view the moral aspect of the laws. Natural law is yet another limitation on sovereignty. All laws must be in accordance with natural laws.
All these make it crystal clear that sovereignty is as important for the very existence of a state as soul for body. All states are legally and morally bound to respect each other's sovereign rights regardless of their power and status. The sovereign power of a weaker country is as important as that of a stronger one.
Pakistan joined hands with the US against the war on terror and has been playing an important and vital role in this campaign. It might not have been possible for America to achieve what it has achieved till now without the support and cooperation of Pakistan. But it is the habit of the US to give zero importance to its allies after achieving its targets. Pakistan has experienced this trend of Uncle Sam many a time but it is our hard luck that our political leadership do not learn from history and they are bent upon extending blind support to America even at the cost of our territorial integrity. The drone attacks are the clear and shared negation and violation of our sovereign right. The so called supporter of human rights and the champion of democracy has made hundreds of attacks on targets in the FATA, of northwest Pakistan since 2004 using drones and is likely to continue the same in future in spite of Pakistan's protest. The irony is that America went to the extent of using nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945 and invaded two Islamic countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. If it does not want others to violate its sovereign right so it must respect the same right of other countries too. Otherwise, it will lack all moral, political and diplomatic support of the world community.