Friday, October 17, 2014

Pakistan takes a stand on drones

Recent articles in Foreign Policy Magazine's South Asia Daily have included a stream of reports on the regular use of drones in Pakistan and nearby areas of Afghanistan. 

There are many people like me who oppose the current preferred method of US justice through the summary execution of extremists made possible by drones. My article "Killing the Thing You Love: Predator Drones, Wilful Neglect and the End of the Internet," attempted to present the opposition case. Predator Drones  

The US Government has got itself into a difficult corner with its "defense of the homeland" argument: kill the extremists without a warning or a trial in their own nations before they do harm in the US

The number of drone attacks is chilling, suggesting the continued wilful neglect of international law on the part of the US, as it secretly kills in our name (not mine!). The New America Foundation has an excellent resource on the Pakistan situation. New America Foundation Nothing good can result from these actions where militants are executed, while members of their families, children and the innocent ("collateral damage") and killed by the US military. 

On its face these actions do not make sense. In terms of an argument about justice, the use of drones is unsustainable. It is certainly not ethical. 

It is not the first time that the following question has been asked - what happens to the "rules of war" when new technology arrives? (The splitting of the atom and the quick mobilization of the Bomb, is the clearest case of technology leading, leaving behind the morality, law and ethics that needed to be incorporated into any discussion of the use of the new technology.)

The comments from Pakistani officials make clear that the rules applying to the new technology of drones are far from established. 

For readers interested in regulation, the reference to PERMA (a Pakistan electronic media institution) offers a gateway into how non-US nations are seeking to address and manage Internet and technology applications in the current war. 

Pakistan calls for international drone norms South Asia Daily

Amb. Zamir Akram, Pakistan's delegate to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, called for greater adherence to and development of international norms regarding the use of armed drones, according to reports on Friday (ETDawn). Akram stated: "Technology must follow the law and not the other way around." Speaking about the risk from the development of autonomous weapons, Akram said: "[they] pose a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and the notion of affixation of responsibility and transparency." Akram also emphasized the threat to sovereignty, arguing: "The ambition for world domination and hegemony has undermined accommodation and engagement as the basis of a rules-based cooperative multi-polar world; absolute security for one state or a group of states cannot come at the cost of diminished security for others."
Domestically, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) called the use of drone cameras illegal and a threat to privacy and security (ET). A senior Pemra official stated: "The drone-cameras used by TV channels are illegal and against the rules set by Pemra. Channel owners have to get advance permission from the interior and defence ministries for using such technology." According to Pakistani law, Pemra has the authority to regulate the use of drone technologies.