Dismiss Saeed''s plea against US drone strikes: Pak govt to LHC
From M Zulqernain
Lahore, Nov 29 (PTI) Pakistan government has asked a court to dismiss LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed''s petition against US drones attacks on the Pakistani soil for being "not maintainable."
The Foreign Ministry, in a reply submitted to the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial yesterday, said Saeed had approached the court under Article 199 of the Constitution, which allowed only an aggrieved person to file a petition.
"Public interest litigation falls within the purview of Article 184(3) of the Constitution, which is the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court," it stated.
The court provided a copy of the ministry''s reply to Saeed''s counsel A K Dogar and asked him to file his response at the next hearing on December 13.
The Chief Justice asked Dogar to come up with arguments on what kind of directions should be issued to the government to stop drone attacks.
The Foreign Ministry''s reply acknowledged that the main focus of US drone attacks is to target terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
However, these strikes are a violation of the country''s sovereignty, it said.
Pakistan government had consistently registered its strong protest with the US regarding collateral damage and violation of sovereignty due to these attacks, the reply said.
Senior officials of the US embassy, including the Ambassador, have been summoned to the Foreign Office since 2008 to lodge protests over the drone strikes, it added.
The ministry further said that the US opted for drone strikes in Pakistan''s tribal areas essentially from 2008 onwards.
However, the frequency of attacks increased in 2009, as 37 strikes were carried out that year, and 115 in 2010, when the US administration decided to dismantle and disrupt safe havens of terrorists in the border areas.
The reply further said that more than 200 drone strikes had been carried out so far.
The Foreign Ministry said it had neither any record nor was privy to any agreement with the US government for carrying out drone strikes.
It said Pakistan government would continue to underscore with the US the futility of these attacks that are enhancing "anti-Americanism" and affecting bilateral relations.
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