Islamabad: A Pakistani court today ordered police to register a criminal case under terrorism act against two former CIA officials, including a station chief, for murder, conspiracy, and waging war against the country by carrying out drone strikes.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court ordered registration of case for offences of murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the provisions of Terrorism Act 1997 against the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Banks, and Legal Counsel John A Rizzo.
The order was passed on a petition filed by Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan Agency who had lost his teenage son and brother in a drone strike on December 31, 2009. Khan started his legal campaign to get justice in 2010.
"Today`s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians who have been killed in US-led drone strikes in Pakistan and as a citizen of Pakistan I feel somewhat reaffirmed that perhaps people like me from Waziristan might also be able to get justice for the wrongs being done to them," Khan said.
"I sincerely hope that authorities will now do their job and proceed against the culprits," he said. Khan`s lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights said that under Pakistani and international laws the US officials are committing murder through drone strikes in the country.
He said the decision simply vindicates this very point and after this order all those who have been killed in drone strikes have a right to initiate similar criminal actions against the CIA officials and others involved.
"This remarkable order also highlights the strength of independence of judiciary in Pakistan which is truly protecting the rights of citizens of Pakistan under the Constitution," he said.
Akbar said that the court has ordered Station House Officer of secretariat Police station in the capital to register the case and investigate the matter.
There is no single agreed data on the deaths due to drones but it is believed that more than 2,200 people were killed in over 380 strikes since 2004.
US claims that drone strikes are precision attacks and have killed many top militants and terrorists. The last drone attack was in December and there are reports that US has halted the campaign in Pakistan as the focus of threat has shifted to Yemen and Somalia.