Despite the fact that Pakistan government has always condemned drone raids as unilateral attacks declaring them to be in contravention of international law as well as counter-productive to the stability of the state, the CIA-run unmanned vehicles continue their attacks unimpeded. The Foreign Office maintained its position that drone strikes violate its territorial integrity as well as sovereignty and set dangerous precedents so far as bilateral relations are concerned.

Islamabad always took a stand that these attacks were being conducted without any verbal understanding or a written agreement. However, thanks to former military dictator Musharraf, who did not mince his words saying there was a signed agreement between Pakistan and the US as a result of which UAVs were carrying out continued operations. The Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan on Saturday said the US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas were a war crime as they were being carried out in violation of the United Nations charter and Geneva Convention. He remarked: “If possible, the state should use force against drone strikes. It (drone strikes) is an act of aggression against a sovereign state,” he said during a convention of Fata Lawyers Forum on ‘Rule of Law in Fata’ in Peshawar. Such speeches, although popular, are unimplementable by our ruling elite and decision-makers. In the Chief Justice’s view, it was the responsibility of the United Nations to check aggression by a member state against another but unfortunately, the world body has turned a blind eye to the killing of innocent people and destruction of property in tribal areas.

But the reality also cannot be overlooked. The fact remains that if we wish the US to stop the aerial strikes, are we in a position to drive out the terrorists hiding in our Fata region on our own instead? And if they are given a free reign, as in the past, they would pose a greater threat to our territorial integrity and would be free to carry out terrorist activities across the country. As of today, their focus is Karachi and Balochistan while the mainstream parties are now coming round to believe that under such conditions, it is they who would be the prime victims. Drone strikes are no doubt a violation of sovereignty and a source of concern for all in Pakistan. The fact remains that Pakistan must be asked and it must sign off on any military activity conducted on its behalf on its own soil. Such American high-handedness only wins it more detractors than friends. And in 2014, both America and Pakistan need to come together on an agenda of mutual respect and agreement to ensure a successful and safe Afghan transition and stability in the region.