Court declares null and void previous ruling that case against former CIA chief, legal adviser be transferred
Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, on Monday, ordered authorities to restore a First Information Report (FIR) against former CIA station chief Jonathan Banks and begin investigations into the case.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also inquired of government authorities as to why Aimal Kansi was handed over to the United States (US), if the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief could not be summoned to Pakistan.
The comment was part of his remarks during a court hearing regarding a 2009 drone attack in Waziristan, in which the court had previously ordered that an FIR be filed against former CIA station chief Banks and his legal adviser John A Rizzo.
Haji Abdul Karim Khan, a native of Miral, had requested the court to register an FIR after his relatives, including his son Zahinullah and brother Asif Iqbal, as well as other civilians, were killed in a drone attack in December 31, 2009.
Advocate-General Islamabad Mian Abdul Rauf presented arguments on behalf of the federal government during the hearing, while Mirza Shahbaz Akbar was counsel for the petitioner Haji Abul Karim Khan.
If the case is to proceed, it has the potential to make US embassy officials suspects in police investigations and may also result in American citizens being charged with murder for drone strikes in the region for the first time.
Siddiqui reprimanded the concerned Station House Officer (SHO) for suspending the original FIR, stating that the court had issued no such order to do so. The SHO then issued an unconditional apology over the matter to the petitioner in the courtroom.
Deputy-Inspector General (DIG) Police, Mirwaiz was also called to the witness stand. He said that the area in which the drone strike took place was disputed, and that he was in contact with the Foreign Office (FO) for instructions on how to proceed with the investigation.
“Are drone strikes not a blatant violation of our air space?” Justice Siddiqui asked DIG Mirwaiz after hearing his testimony.
“The CIA station chief planned the drone strike while sitting at an office in Islamabad. The city falls under our jurisdiction. An FIR can be filed against him in this regard,” the judge added.
“We will not tolerate officials running away from their responsibilities. It is contempt of court that you transferred the case elsewhere and ignored a court judgement on it,” Siddiqui told the DIG with reference to a previous ruling in the matter.
The judge noted that it was the job of the FO to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the country, but his job was only to issue judgments in light of the law of the land.
“If Aimal Kansi can be handed over to the US, why can’t the CIA chief be summoned here?” Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said.
“We are quick to critcise our intelligence agencies, but do not have the courage to speak against the CIA or Blackwater,” he added.
The court declared null and void the ruling that the case against former CIA station chief and his legal adviser be transferred, and asked Islamabad Police to restore the FIR and begin investigations into the matter.
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