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Pakistan judge orders government to produce anti-drone activist

A Pakistani judge on Wednesday ordered the nation's Interior Ministry to hand over anti-drone activist Kareem Khan for a court appearance slated for late-February. Khan reportedly brought legal action [BBC report] against the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] and the Pakistani government after a 2009 drone attack killed his son and brother. Sources indicate unidentified government forces abducted Khan from his home in Rawalpindi in early February, days before he was to testify against drone use before EU parliamentarians. Several advocacy groups in turn speculated that government intelligence agencies "disappeared" Khan to prevent his testimony. The court ordered the government to either produce Khan or disclose the legal basis upon which he was arrested.

The growing use of unmanned aerial surveillance and combat capable aircraft, otherwise known as drones [JURIST backgrounder], has drawn the attention of the world. In addition, drone use in Pakistan continues to be a contentious issue. In October Amnesty International (AI) urged the US to conduct a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations that CIA drone strikes have resulted in recent civilian casualties [JURIST report] in Pakistan. In June Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the Pakistan Foreign Office to contact US Ambassador Richard Hogland to criticize US drone strikes [JURIST report]. In May Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan of the High Court of Peshawar, Pakistan ruled that US drone strikes in the region are illegal [JURIST report].

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