A lawyer from Pakistan who has been representing victims of U.S. drone strikes in the country has still not been granted a visa by the U.S. government, which he needs to attend an International Drone Summit at the end of the month. The lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, is no stranger to the United States. Antiwar.com describes Akbar:
He has traveled to the United States in the past and has even worked for the U.S. government. He was a consultant with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and he helped the FBI investigate a terrorism case involving a Pakistani diplomat.
But his relationship with the U.S. government changed in 2010 when he took on the case of Karim Khan, a resident of a small town in North Waziristan who claimed that his 18-year-old son and 35-year-old brother were killed when a CIA-operated drone struck his family home.
Akbar, in fact, co-founded the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a Pakistani human rights organization that has taken up advocacy on behalf of victims of U.S. drone strikes.
The U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan began in 2004, and was ramped up by the Obama administration, with at least 200 strikes in the last two years. As Reason’s Mike Riggs pointed out last month, the media’s numbers often grossly underestimate the civilian casualty in the drone war in Pakistan, an American activity just barely acknowledged officially earlier this year.
Akbar most recently requested a visa in May 2011 to speak at Columbia University about America’s drone wars, but did not receive a response. This non-response denial of an entry visa continues nearly a year later. The International Drone Summit begins on April 28, so there’s still time for the feds to grant a visa.
A three year old girl who CNN says was mutilated by a drone strike in Pakistan was allowed into the country last year, though she came for medical treatment, not advocacy.