U.N. Drone Inquisitor Says It’s Time to End Robot War in Pakistan
Emmerson’s statement is carefully worded. He portrays himself as conveying Pakistan’s concerns, rather than vouching for their particulars. But it’s still the strongest statement yet by an international official calling for an end to a campaign of targeted killing that briefly flared back up earlier this year. And to call the strikes an unwarranted violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is tantamount to calling saying the U.S. is waging a war of aggression.
“The Pashtun tribes of the FATA area have suffered enormously under the drone campaign,” Emmerson’s statement continues, referring to the tribal areas. “It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other States.”
If the drone strikes continue into the next Pakistani government, Emmerson warned, the U.S. drone effort could further destabilize the nuclear power, undermining a key U.S. strategic goal at the heart of the drone strikes. He urged patience with a Pakistani military effort to eradicate al-Qaida’s allies in the tribal areas — one that official Washington has long since written off as unserious.
Significantly and subtly, Emmerson raised doubts over repeated U.S. claims that the targeting efforts behind the drones kill terrorists and spare civilians. Last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a staunch drone advocate, claimed that the drones kill only “single digits” worth of civilians annually. Many of the CIA’s strikes, termed “signature strikes,” kill people believed to fit a pattern of extremist behavior, rather than killing specific, known terrorists.