Saturday 4 July 2009

Might is right - would US ever face Hague for "Crimes against humanity" committed in Pakistan

Number of innocent non-combatant civilians killed in Pakistan by US drones has by all calculations surpassed the number of US soldiers killed in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan put together. Until now US air force and drones had demonstrated a knack for attacking Pushtun marriage parties killing, in most cases, innocent non-combatant women and children. Now these botched attacks have begun targeting funeral prayers and processions as well.

US has never officially declared war against the state of Pakistan. Government of Pakistan has always protested, on paper, against these attacks as acts of aggression. Though public perception in Pakistan overwhelming supports the notion that Government of Pakistan has always been in cohorts with US on these attacks - differences, if any, primarily have been around Pakistan authorities not knowing in advance when these attacks are carried out, and that US has not been keen on targeting any Taliban militants who carry out attacks within Pakistan.

Indiscriminate killing of civilians carried out against a nation that US is not at war with can only be described as a "crime against humanity". Rome Statute of the International criminal court describes "crimes against humanity" as follows:

"1. For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder;
(b) Extermination;
(c) Enslavement;
(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
(f) Torture;
(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(i) Enforced disappearance of persons;
(j) The crime of apartheid;
(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health."

According to this definition killing of civilians in Pakistan by US military using unmanned drones, kidnapping, enforced disappearance of persons, torture, rape, enslavement of prisoners like Dr. Afia Siddiqui at the hands of US authorities can all be charged as "crimes against humanity" in the International Criminal Court.

But will it ever happen. Over the last few decades only people brought to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for "war crimes" or "crimes against humanity" have been from countries who dared cross path with the US or from weak and pariah states. Principle of might is right applies when it comes to US and her allies. Regimes and dictators can get away with genocide for as long as you are working towards achievement of US strategic interests. Even organisations like Amnesty International with a global voice are quite. Question is for how long...

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