The Significance of the Peshawar High Court Drone Ruling
A Milestone in the History of Human Rights
In May of this year (2013), the Peshawar High Court, the highest judicial institution in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region, ruled that the deadly US drone strikes in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas are illegal.
Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who headed a two-judge bench that heard the case, declared the drone strikes to be illegal, inhumane, a violation of domestic and international law, and a transgression of the UN charter on human rights.
The Court also ruled that “The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future.”
Following the Court decision, cynical, ‘legal experts’ in the US dismissed it as unimportant and as carrying no weight. In this they displayed unmitigated arrogance, and revealed the moral bankruptcy underlying the entire US, CIA-run drone campaign in Pakistan.
In fact, the Peshawar High Court ruling is a major milestone in the advancement of human rights. If one takes time to read the ruling, one cannot help but be impressed with the lucidity of its reasoning and analysis. Unlike the American legal analyses, this one demonstrates moral and intellectual integrity.
It is very significant, then, that this “little” Court in the remote regions of Pakistan has produced a legal document that is an order of magnitude better, on every important dimension, than the pro-drone justifications drafted by the American legal system – with its prestigious professors of law at Harvard, Duke University, and Georgetown, its White House legal advisors, John Yoo’s, and armies of paid legal analysts.
On the battlefield of Truth, Conscience, and Justice, the Peshawar High Court has defeated the US government. For this I applaud them. They have my respect as scholars of law and defenders of human rights.
This has significance far beyond the actual case of drone strikes. It signifies that a great equalization is happening. I refer to the new parity of peoples in all nations on the plains of truth and law. No more can we think of a distinction between the “advanced nations” and those that are merely “developing” or “third-world.”
No. By God’s goodness we have reached the point in the development of the human race where higher education and the resources necessary for scholarly and legal research are available to all. The natural goodness and genius of each nation, no matter how poor economically, may now manifest itself. A group of dedicated analysts and jurists in any part of the world, how matter how ‘remote’, may now issue truths that challenge the lies and complacency of the economic super-powers.
There are no longer any ‘third-world’ nations in the sphere of law and morality. All nations are fully grown.
Would that I could remove the anger, frustration, anxiety, suffering and sheer terror of those affected by these strikes! But I cannot.
I can, however, do this much: to suggest how there may be meaning in the suffering caused by these drones strikes. Out of the crucible of this suffering and horror comes the advancement of human rights. Right will prevail over might in the long run. This will happen by a succession of steps like this – in which the people of the world learn to assert their rights using the legal means and institutions available. It is by this kind of advancement that human beings will learn to achieve their objectives by law, not by war.
Therefore the Peshawar High Court are heroes of humanity, so are those innocent people in Pakistan who suffer because of these drones. God bless them!
My suggestion to those in Pakistan would be this: continue to bring this matter before progressively higher judicial tribunals. Be fully confident and believe in your mission. Work with the power that comes from knowing that you are right, and that your actions truly serve a higher power. Not for nothing is my blog named satyagraha. This word, coined by Gandhi, has several interpretations, all featuring some conjunction of the “Truth” with “force” or “power”. But in this context it has a special meaning: Truth itself is an insurmountable force for good. Continue to promote Truth by laying out in plain and clear terms the case against drones, and why current US policies are illegal.
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