Anti-drone activist meets British MEP ahead of EU voting

Brussels: MEP Dr Sajjad Karim heard first-hand accounts of the devastating collateral damage from US drone attacks in Pakistan. The British Conservative MEP met with prominent anti drone activist, Kareem Khan, at a meeting organised in London by UK human rights charity Reprieve. The activist explained how the ‘war on terror’ killed his innocent son and brother.

Dr Karim MEP has pledged to support Mr Khan’s campaign to highlight the significant number of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes.

Mr Khan met with the North West Conservative MEP ahead of a European Parliament debate on a resolution on the use of armed drones scheduled for Wednesday 26 Feb.

The resolution will be voted on by MEPs on Thursday 27 Feb.

There had been fears for Mr Khan’s safety up until last week, following his abduction from his Rawalpindi home by men in police uniforms on February 5. Mr Khan had not been heard from until his release on February 14, after which he revealed that, during his captivity, he had been beaten and questioned about his activities.

Dr Karim, Chair and founder of the Friends of Pakistan group, has been highly critical on the excessive use of drones by the Obama administration and has called their legality, particularly in Pakistan, ‘questionable’. He said:

“Listening to Kareem Khan’s tragic story highlights the real impact of drone warfare and shows a very different story to what the Americans would have us believe. The legal quagmire that surrounds the current use of drones casts a dark shadow on international law and shows little sign of becoming clearer. In regards to the situation in Pakistan, the US drone strikes are questionable at best as there is no consent from the government of Pakistan.”

Mr Khan is being accompanied on his visit by Noor Behram, a journalist from North Waziristan (the region which bears the brunt of CIA strikes); his lawyer Shahzad Akbar, a fellow of human rights charity Reprieve; and Jennifer Gibson, a staff attorney at Reprieve.

The group has already visited Germany and met with German MPs and Government officials to discuss the impact of the CIA drone programme on civilians in Pakistan.

European states have been revealed to be involved in the CIA campaign through the sharing of intelligence used to target strikes, and the provision of crucial infrastructure – notably at US air bases such as Ramstein in Germany and RAF Croughton in the UK.

Kareem Khan said: “Just last week I was abducted and tortured. Thanks to the efforts of many, I’m now free and able to meet with politicians like Sajjad Karim MEP who are taking a principled stand against the covert use of US drone strikes in Pakistan. As MEPs prepare to debate drones next week at the European Parliament, I hope that my message is heard loud and clear in Strasbourg: Drone strikes in Pakistan are killing hundreds of civilians, and must be stopped. It’s important that European countries’ involvement in the strikes is investigated, and European governments do all they can to bring a halt to the programme.”