04/24/2015, 00.00
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An "intelligence failure" led to the killing of Lo Porto and Weinstein

by Silent Thinker
A retired Christian Pakistani army brigadier spoke about the drone strike in which an Italian aid worker and a US contractor were killed. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) “condemns every bombing because nothing is certain about the victims, and innocent people can become targets."

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – "In the briefing before the strike, the Pakistani army should have stopped the Americans. What happened is clearly an intelligence failure and a failure in US leadership,” said Brigadier (General) Samson Simon Sharaf, a retired Christian officer in the Pakistani army who spoke to AsiaNews about the death of Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto (pictured right) and US contractor Warren Weinstein during a US drone attack.

The White House yesterday confirmed the death of two foreign nationals kidnapped by al Qaeda in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a drone strike that went wrong.

US President Obama offered his condolences to the families of US contractor Warren Weinstein, and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto. They were killed along with US al Qaeda leader, Ahmed Farouq, in a US drone strike in January.

Pakistani leaders condemned the attack. “This is a terrible story,” said I.A. Rehman, secretary general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). “We are terribly saddened by the killing of two foreign nationals held captive in a vulnerable region.”

“Unfortunately, such incidents often happen,” he added. And “There is no guarantee that they will not happen again. We have taken too many things for granted. The HRCP condemns every bombing because nothing is certain about the victims, and innocent people can become targets. "

According to HRCP annual report titled State of Human Rights in Pakistan 2014, attack by drones reportedly killed at least 114 people in Pakistan last year. however, since journalists and human rights activists are not allowed into parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, it is hard to know how many victims of drone strikes were militants and how many were civilians.

As a reluctant partner in the US war on terror, Pakistan has long urged Obama to end drone strikes, since the Pakistani military is presently fighting the Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban) and other militant groups in North Waziristan in an offensive that began last June.

The restive northern region is ruled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Movement for Justice, which has blamed drone attacks for fuelling extremism in the country.

For Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the latest strike constitutes a violation of human rights. The Islamic party belongs to a peace jirga (a formal assembly to settle disputes) when the government pursued peace talks with the Taliban before the military offensive.

"The US government, not the kidnappers, is responsible for this tragedy. The families of [the abducted] Mughawi should seek a conviction for the creator of the drone programme,” said the party’s spokesman Muhammad Asim Makhdoom.

“The rate of collateral damage by drones is 99 per cent,” he added. “The current unrest in Pakistan is due to foreign interference. The tribal people living in border areas are ready to forgive the deaths caused by drones if the programme stops today”.

Since "Suicide bombings happen in the country’s major cities, will our metropolises be the next targets [of drones]?"

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