Jonathan Banks, who fled Pakistan in 2010 after his identity was disclosed, is wanted for drone strikes in North Waziristan.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered police to press charges against the American Central Investigation Agency (CIA)’s former station chief in Pakistan for murder, conspiracy, and waging war against Pakistan.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued the order during a hearing into a 2010 petition by Karim Khan, a tribesman from North Waziristan who lost his teenage son, Zahinullah, and brother, Asif Iqbal, in a drone strike on Dec. 31, 2009. Khan’s brother had been teaching at a primary school in Mir Ali when he was killed.
Khan’s application nominates then-CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, who left Pakistan in 2010 after his identity was disclosed. It is unlikely that the government will seek his return to face charges.
“This order is a victory for all innocent civilians killed by U.S.-led drone strikes in Pakistan,” said Karim Khan after the proceedings. “I feel somewhat reaffirmed that, perhaps, people like me will now be able to get justice for the wrongs being perpetrated against them.” Khan said he hoped the authorities would now “do their job and proceed against the culprits.”
Khan is being provided legal assistance by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a charity associated with Britain’s Reprieve. He was briefly kidnapped in February days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with German, Dutch and British parliamentarians about his experience with drone strikes and their impact on Pakistan. Four days later, he was blindfolded and dumped at the outskirts of Islamabad, with intelligence agencies suspected of being behind the detention.
In a statement, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights praised the judiciary for the order. “The Islamabad police had been avoiding proceeding against CIA officials and others involved. This remarkable order highlights the strength of independence of judiciary in Pakistan, which is truly protecting the rights of citizens of Pakistan under the Constitution.”