THE US drone strike that killed Afghan Taliban leader Akhtar
Mansour was unquestionably a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
The fact that it was a violation does not change whether Pakistani
officials were informed before or after the strike. And even if
some Pakistani officials, military or otherwise, secretly
coordinated with the Americans to allow the drone strike, it would
still be a violation of territorial sovereignty.
Simply put, the territorial and aerial sovereignty of Pakistan
cannot be bartered, bargained or handed away by officials colluding
No matter what the officials’ rank or seniority, they have no
jurisdiction or authority to make such decisions.
A drone strike in Balochistan, very much inside Pakistani
territory, conducted unilaterally by the US or in collusion with
officials here, ought to be an unacceptable red line.
The days of secret pacts under a military dictator are over, as is
the logic that may have once applied to allowing drone strikes in
remote areas of Fata.
Gone, hopefully forever, are the days when the Waziristan agencies
were under the virtual control of militants.
And yet perhaps the most significant-ever drone strike did take
place on Saturday in Balochistan. Why?
In the unapologetic and blunt statement of US President Barack
Obama yesterday lies perhaps the unwelcome answer: Pakistan,
President Obama implied, continues to be a place where extremist
networks that threaten the region and the world continue to find a
So murky is the Pakistani record against global militants and
terrorists that even when Mullah Mansour, who only days ago the US
was still publicly hoping to draw into dialogue with the Afghan
government via the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, was killed by
the US in an act of dubious legality, the focus of the world
immediately and fiercely turned to the fact that he was inside
Pakistani territory when the attack took place.
While Pakistan may rail against double standards and unfair
characterisations of the international community, for much of the
outside world it is an article of faith that this is a country that
knows only double games and that will inevitably pursue policies
that cause harm to other nations.
What makes it so easy for the US to violate the territorial
integrity of Pakistan with a drone strike in Balochistan and a
night raid in Abbottabad is not the superpower’s military
superiority but the weight of global opinion that Pakistan is a
country whose own actions make it possible for other states to
disregard international law and arguments of sovereignty.
If Osama bin Laden can live undetected for years in Abbottabad,
Mullah Omar can allegedly die in Pakistan and Mullah Mansour can
hold a Pakistani identity card and passport, the arguments for
selective sovereignty, when it comes to drone strikes, ring hollow.
University of karachi,