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The United States has conducted hundreds of drone missions in Pakistan since 2004.
Mirza Shahzad Akbar is Reprieve legal fellow in Pakistan, Director and Founder of Foundation for Fundamental Rights and a practicing human rights lawyer in Islamabad. He represents a number of families of victims affected by drone strikes.

On March 17, 2011 a drone attack killed at least 40 members of a Wazir tribal Jirga, which was resolving a land ownership dispute among sub-tribes in Waziristan, a mountainous region in northwest Pakistan, according to local media reports.

The reports claimed the Jirga was not the intended target and the predator was chasing a car before finally executing five people without any trial or due process near the Jirga. While this predator was hovering in the area, sophisticated cameras allegedly picked up images of a bigger gathering. Without appearing to have any intelligence or knowledge of its target, it fired four more missiles at the congregation.

In the same month, a joint investigation by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Sunday Times newspaper cited Pakistan's military commander in Waziristan at the time, Brigadier Abdullah Dogar: "We in the Pakistan military knew about the meeting, we'd got the request 10 days earlier. It was held in broad daylight, people were sitting out in Nomada bus depot when the missile strikes came. Maybe there were one or two Taliban at that Jirga -- they have their people attending -- but does that justify a drone strike which kills 42 mostly innocent people?"

Opinion: Drone is Obama's weapon of choice

There should never be doubts. A big gathering in Waziristan does not mean they must be Taliban.

To put it in perspective: My clients say drone attacks are now happening almost twice a week on Pakistani soil.

Karim Khan, a tribal man by origin and a journalist by profession, is suing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for U.S.$500 million for "his loss of blood." He had only two options when his innocent 18-year-old son and brother, a primary school teacher, were killed in one such drone attack on December 31, 2009: to join the Taliban's war against the U.S. and take his revenge in a customary tribal way, or call on due process, the rule of law and judicial system of his state to gain justice for the wrong done to him.

The first option would have continued the cycle of terror, which we witness in Pakistan in the shape of suicide attacks after almost every drone attack. Khan chose the latter and following him, dozens more families have come forth to seek justice through proper legal means. It is time now for the U.S. to respond to these grievances through legal means.

Read: When are drone killings illegal?

A similar fate awaited Fahim Qureshi, a teenager and another client from North Waziristan. U.S. President Barack Obama, the embodiment of "change" and "hope," approved an escalation of the drone strikes in Pakistan by giving the CIA and U.S. military control of the program. Fahim's family house was destroyed by one such attack.

The attack on January 23, 2009 resulted in the deaths of seven people present in the house, including three of Fahim's uncles, a cousin, and three family friends. Fahim was seriously injured and lost one eye. According to the New York Times, President Obama was later informed of this attack and civilian killings. The change he brought in was a record escalation of drone strikes in 2009, culminating in 344 attacks at the expense of 3,325 lives to date, according to TBIJ. The escalation would also change Fahim's life forever.

The U.S. might never be able to win the "heart and mind" of this teenager from Pakistan's tribal area, who paid a high prize for faulty intelligence, a common mistake that CIA makes without any accountability.

Under the authority of the U.S. President, drone attacks on Pakistani territory have been carried out by the CIA and U.S. military since 2004. This is an unprecedented move: a foreign government carrying out military strikes on an independent and sovereign state without declaring war. Earlier this year, Christof Heyns, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, warned that Washington was challenging a system of international law that had existed since the end of World War II and that it could even be guilty of war crimes. The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone attacks are a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Read: Drones decimating Taliban in Pakistan

What astounds me is the belief expressed by some scholars and politicians that drones are the only viable option for combating terrorism or militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Experience and statistics tell a different story.

The first drone attack was carried out in 2004 and had a specific target. This was true for all nine drone attacks that took place until 2007. However, identifying targets became shady as the number of strikes increased. After President Obama's oath of office, the drone attacks saw a sudden surge, accelerating from an average of one strike every 40 days to one every four days by mid-2011, according to the New America Foundation. The TBIJ said available data showed from June 2004 to September 2012, drone strikes have killed 2,570 to 3,337 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 884 were civilians -- including 176 children.

A similar fate awaited Fahim Qureshi, a teenager and another client from North Waziristan. U.S. President Barack Obama, the embodiment of "change" and "hope," approved an escalation of the drone strikes in Pakistan by giving the CIA and U.S. military control of the program. Fahim's family house was destroyed by one such attack.

The attack on January 23, 2009 resulted in the deaths of seven people present in the house, including three of Fahim's uncles, a cousin, and three family friends. Fahim was seriously injured and lost one eye. According to the New York Times, President Obama was later informed of this attack and civilian killings. The change he brought in was a record escalation of drone strikes in 2009, culminating in 344 attacks at the expense of 3,325 lives to date, according to TBIJ. The escalation would also change Fahim's life forever.

The U.S. might never be able to win the "heart and mind" of this teenager from Pakistan's tribal area, who paid a high prize for faulty intelligence, a common mistake that CIA makes without any accountability.

Under the authority of the U.S. President, drone attacks on Pakistani territory have been carried out by the CIA and U.S. military since 2004. This is an unprecedented move: a foreign government carrying out military strikes on an independent and sovereign state without declaring war. Earlier this year, Christof Heyns, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, warned that Washington was challenging a system of international law that had existed since the end of World War II and that it could even be guilty of war crimes. The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone attacks are a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Read: Drones decimating Taliban in Pakistan

What astounds me is the belief expressed by some scholars and politicians that drones are the only viable option for combating terrorism or militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Experience and statistics tell a different story.

The first drone attack was carried out in 2004 and had a specific target. This was true for all nine drone attacks that took place until 2007. However, identifying targets became shady as the number of strikes increased. After President Obama's oath of office, the drone attacks saw a sudden surge, accelerating from an average of one strike every 40 days to one every four days by mid-2011, according to the New America Foundation. The TBIJ said available data showed from June 2004 to September 2012, drone strikes have killed 2,570 to 3,337 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 884 were civilians -- including 176 children.

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