May 29, 2016
ISLAMABAD—Relatives of a Pakistani taxi driver, who was killed in last week’s U.S. drone strike targeting the leader of the Afghan Taliban, have formally lodged a police complaint against unnamed U.S. officials.
The deceased driver, Mohammad Azam, was transporting Taliban chief Mullah Mansoor when missiles fired by a drone struck their car in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, killing both of them.
Police in the remote district of Noshki, where the May 21 missile attack took place, confirmed Sunday that Azam’s relatives have set the criminal justice process in motion by filing what is called a First-Information Report (FIR) against unnamed U.S. officials.
“My brother, a father of four children, was innocent and the sole bread earner for his extremely impoverished family,” a brother of the deceased driver said in his complaint registered with Noshki police station.
He said Azam had no links to any terror groups and used to ferry passengers in his taxi between Taftan, the Pakistani town bordering Iran and Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.
“I seek justice and legal action against American authorities responsible for the attack. I do not know their names but media has quoted them as claiming to have used explosive material to kill my brother,” the complainant added.
A Quetta-based attorney, Tahir Hussain, told VOA that Azam’s family will likely to seek a trial in absentia if U.S officials refuse to respond and may attempt to push for monetary compensation.
US defends strike
President Barack Obama and other members of his administration quickly confirmed the killing of Mansoor in the drone strike.
Pakistani authorities have not commented on the registration of the FIR. Local laws bind the police to fully investigate an incident before launching a court case.
U.S. officials defended the drone attack, saying the Taliban leader was opposed to Afghan peace efforts and plotting deadly attacks against American soldiers as well as their partners in Afghanistan.
Mansoor was apparently returning from Iran and was targeted shortly after he entered Pakistan, where he had been residing along with other Taliban leaders.
A Pakistani passport found near the destroyed car carrying Mansoor was traveling in suggested the slain Taliban chief was using pseudonym, Wali Mohammad, for undertaking journeys within and outside Pakistan. The travel document contained valid Iranian visa.
The U.S. drone operations have long been under fire from rights defenders for causing collateral damage, though Washington insists they have effectively reduced threat terrorist groups pose to American interests in the region.
Pakistan condemned the drone attack on Mansoor as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and authorities have since arrested several officials for allegedly helping the slain Taliban leader get a Pakistani passport.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Interior Ministry announced Sunday that DNA test results have confirmed that it was indeed Mullah Mansoor, the Taliban chief, who was killed in the May 21 drone strike. He said the DNA samples were taken from a relative of Mansoor who had come from Afghanistan to receive his body.