Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI), the party headed by cricket-star-turned politician Imran Khan, has named CIA director John Brennen and the CIA station chief in Islamabad, Craig Osth as the principal accused in the murder of six people in a drone strike on a madrassa in Tall, Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district. PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari made the announcement at a press conference in Islamabad on Monday.
November 27, 2013, 20:57 EST
The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), one of the main opposition parties in Pakistan, has lodged a formal complaint with the police in Hangu district against CIA director John Brenner and CIA station chief in Islamabad, Craig Osth in the drone attack of November 21.
The drone strike was carried out on a madrassa outside the town of Tall in Hangu district killing six people, four of them Pakistani citizens, and injuring about 15 seminary students. PTI Information Secretary, Shireen Mazari made the announcement about the formal complaint to police at a press conference in Islamabad on Monday.
Dr Mazari who studied at the London School of Economics, is a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly representing women’s seat for the PTI. The letter signed by her to the Hangu police named the two CIA officials as suspects for murder and for “waging war against Pakistan.” She demanded that they should be named in the First Information Report (FIR).
It must be borne in mind that unlike Pakistan’s tribal belt, Hangu district is in the settled areas of Pakistan with proper courts and police stations. The CIA drone strike of November 21 is an extension of America’s war of terror into Pakistani territory.
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) “As it happens” program today (after the 7 pm news), Dr Mazari said Osth should be arrested since he has no diplomatic immunity. When the program host Carrol Off told Dr Mazari that by outing the CIA station chief’s name, she may have jeopardized his life, she shot back: “If anyone is guilty of extrajudicial executions, he must be arrested and punished according to Pakistani law.”
Dr Mazari went on to elaborate that the Peshawar High Court had in September declared drone strikes in Pakistan illegal and war crimes. She demanded the implementation of Pakistani law in Pakistan.
The PTI information secretary also demanded that Osth be arrested and interrogated to obtain the names of the drone’s remote pilot and others involved in the attack. She called these war crimes.
In her letter, Dr Mazari also requested the interior ministry to put Osth’s name on the “Exit Control List” in order to prevent him from leaving Pakistan.
The move has clearly put the federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the defensive. While publicly demanding a halt to drone strikes, Sharif has done nothing to prevent them. The Pakistan air force has the capability to shoot down drones but the federal government has refused to authorize such retaliation.
The Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf that heads the provincial government in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) and where all the drone strikes have occurred, has since November 25 blocked the main ring road from Peshawar to Torkham at the Afghan border. The PTI has vowed to block all Nato supplies to Afghanistan.
Sharif’s government has again been found wanting although in September, all political parties in Pakistan called for negotiations with the Taliban to bring an end to militancy in the country and to call for a halt to US drone strikes. Two years ago, the Pakistan National Assembly passed a formal motion demanding an end to drone attacks.
The PTI chief Imran Khan has been a persistent critic of drone strikes. On November 1 when a US drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Imran Khan accused Washington of sabotaging the peace talks. Pakistan was about to send a delegation for talks with the Taliban. Mehsud’s murder blew the chances of any peace talks.
Most observers believe that the Sharif government will not muster to courage to arrest Ost. The previous government led by Asif Ali Zardari let the CIA operative Raymond Davis to be whisked out of Pakistan even after killing two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore in January 2011.
While it was a different government, Sharif is just as spineless. All he is interested is in staying in power. The PTI move, however, has exposed him and the other Pakistani politicians as cowards.