Pakistan court orders FIR against ex-CIA station chief

ISLAMABAD (TIP): Pakistan court on June 05 ordered police to lodge an FIR against former CIA station chief for killing civilians in US drone strikes in the volatile northwestern tribal regions stretching along the border with Afghanistan. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court issued the order on petition filed by Abdul Karim Khan, a native of Mir Ali town in North Waziristan in 2010. In the petition, Khan pleaded that drone strikes kill innocent civilians and added that his 18-year-old son Zaheenullah and brother Asif Iqbal were both killed in one of such attacks in 2009.

Khan, also an anti-drone activist, said that the strikes in which his son and brother were killed were ordered by ex-CIA station chief, Jonathan Banks. While accepting the petition, the judge ordered station house officer of Islamabad’s secretariat police station to register an FIR against Banks. “Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC ordered today registration of a criminal case for offences of murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the provisions of Terrorism Act 1997, against the ex-CIA chief, Jonathan Banks,” Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Khan’s counsel, said in a statement. “We are fighting this legal battle since 2010 and the police was reluctant to pursue our case but finally we succeeded,” he added.

The legal assistance to Khan has been provided by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a charity associated with Britain’s Reprieve. Khan had earlier also sent a 500 million dollars claim for damages in drone attacks to the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, CIA chief Leon Panetta and Banks. “Today is a V-day for all those people who lost their near and dear ones in drone attacks,” Khan vowed before reporters outside the court. Khan has been trying since 2010 to register a case against Banks but Islamabad police had refused to file an FIR on advice of its prosecution department which said the application was not maintainable as the site of the drone strike was out of its jurisdiction.

The CIA had accused Pakistan’s spy agency ISI in 2010 of endangering its station chief’s life by releasing his name, a charge which ISI had denied. Following the incident, relations between the two agencies went sour and Banks was withdrawn from Pakistan. According to AFP, 2,155 people have been killed in drone attacks since August 2008, with critics charging that the strikes cause many civilian casualties while international think tanks, including The New American Foundation and UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalists, reportedly claim that more than 3,000 people, 70% of whom were civilians, have been killed in drone attacks since 2004. The last drone took place in last December in North Waziristan.

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