US to go ahead with 'essential' drone attacks in Pak despite UN call to stop

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 04, 2010 11:20 hrs

Notwithstanding a report by a top UN official, which called for the discontinuation of unmanned Predator drone attacks in Pakistan's troubled tribal areas along the Afghan border, the United States has defended the missile strikes, which many believe have killed more civilians than extremists.

Bruce Riedel, a former Central Investigation Agency (CIA) officials and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center described the CIA operated attacks as 'essential', which were needed to pressurise terror groups like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Drone operations are essential. The drones are part of a much broader effort to put pressure on Al-Qaida through the war in Afghanistan. They're the cutting edge of the pressure, but they're not the only pressure," The Christian Science Monitor quoted Riedel, as saying.

Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also argued that the drone attacks were an "essential tool for killing terrorists even if their use should be more carefully scrutinized."

Zenko, however, pointed out that militants were fast adopting to these strikes, and that their 'usefulness may be waning.'

A top United Nation (UN) official had criticised the Obama administration for continuing drone attacks in the semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan, as they have resulted in countless civilian deaths.

While US officials have presented an impressive figure of over 500 terrorists being killed in missile hits and only 30 civilians in the past couple of years, UN's special rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions Phillip Alston argues that drone strikes amount to a "license to kill" without being held accountable, a license the U.S. would not want any other country to have.

Alston, in his report, said that by carrying out the drone attacks, Washington is just setting a bad example.

"The rules we're setting for ourselves now are the rules that we're also setting for others later," Alston's report said.

Alston criticized the secrecy of the CIA's drone attacks, saying they have resulted in "the creation of a major accountability vacuum."

"Remote attacks also led to a risk of developing a 'Playstation' mentality to killing," he wrote in his report. (ANI)