Drone strikes are not a new phenomenon, they’ve been a major topic of debate ever since the Bush administration launched its drone war against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2006.
But the drone wars in the US have escalated in recent years, particularly following the death of the CIA agent and former US Navy SEAL killed in Yemen in 2015.
The drones, which have a range of US military and intelligence assets, are deployed around the globe and have been widely seen as a form of state terrorism.
The US government has accused the Pakistani government of backing the attacks, saying it was responsible for several of the attacks in Pakistan.
President Donald Trump has said he has no regrets over his decision to target the two US citizens in Pakistan, but the Obama administration has maintained that the drone strikes have been legal under international law.
What is drone warfare?
What is the US drone war in Pakistan?
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) says it is involved in at least 15 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2014.
According to the official, the strikes have targeted AQAP and al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan’s tribal areas and areas in the North Waziristan tribal area, where the US is engaged in a drone campaign to try to root out terrorists.
The United States is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a legal right to target anyone it considers to be a “high-value” target.
It is illegal to target civilians, but there are exceptions, including in targeted strikes against AQAP members or fighters.
The attacks have killed more than 60 people in Pakistan in 2017.
What are the legal grounds for drone strikes?
The UN Convention against Torture states that “targeting an individual for any reason is a gross violation of the right to life”.
But the US government argues that it is only targeting suspected terrorists.
Pakistan has a “tactical alliance” with the US, which allows the US to carry out drone strikes on its soil without permission from Pakistan.
The Pakistani government has not been clear about its position on whether it backs the US in drone strikes.
“We have no information from Pakistan to support these claims, but we support the United States against all international terrorism and all forms of terrorism,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement in September.
The official said the US had not provided Pakistan with evidence supporting the claims, and that the government was “unable to verify” the claims.
However, a US official said: “The US is not the only state to target and kill a member of al-Qaida in Pakistan and al Qaeda leaders.”
What are Pakistan’s legal options?
The legal issue has been a subject of considerable debate in Pakistan for some time.
President Mamnoon Hussain, the country’s prime minister, recently told the media that he would “definitely not accept” a legal challenge.
“The President will not accept the challenge from the Pakistani side.
The legal issue is a matter for the Supreme Court and we are waiting for its verdict,” he said.
However the US and Pakistan have disagreed over how to handle the legal issue.
In a written statement, the US said it had not yet received the Pakistani response to its drone attacks, which it has said were unlawful.
“President Trump’s decision to conduct these drone strikes is entirely lawful and has been supported by the Pakistani leadership, and has no bearing on the United State’s ability to target al-Qa’ida leaders or the United Kingdom,” the statement read.
However in a separate statement, Mr Hussain said he had received “legal advice from a legal adviser in Pakistan”.
“We will be filing a petition with the Supreme Commission on Human Rights (SCHR) to challenge this decision,” he added.
What happens if a drone strikes kill an innocent person?
In Pakistan, the legal position has not yet been settled, but lawyers say the legal issues surrounding drone strikes will only get clearer as the legal framework in place matures.
The legal framework currently includes the UN Charter, the Convention against Genocide, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Criminal Court.
In Pakistan the US has a case against the Pakistani president, but Pakistan has a defence case against Mr Hussain.
Mr Hussain’s lawyers said they were confident of winning.
“Pakistan has an international legal system that protects the human rights of all Pakistanis, and we will be able to challenge these actions,” said Mr Hussain’s lawyer, Qamar Javed Iqbal.
What has the US done about drones in Pakistan so far?
In a joint statement, Pakistan and the US officials said they agreed that the US should not be allowed to use drones against Pakistan’s civilian population.
“As long as the US continues to be able strike the US citizens who have not committed a crime, the Pakistani military will continue to strike them,” the two countries said.
“This has no impact on the legal standing of the United Nations, or