Government worker Haji Babat was among dozens who died in a drone attack that targeted a tribal meeting in March 2011. Many of the dead were tribal elders.
Babat’s son Khalil Khan later submitted a sworn statement to the British High Court, containing details about his father. He was described as ‘the type of person that others looked up to and aspired to be like’.
Haji Babat had worked for the government ‘for about seven to eight years prior to his murder’, Khan said. He worked as a Khassadar – a tribal policeman.
He added: ‘If there were ever any issues that needed to be resolved in my family or in my community, people would turn to my father and Malik Daud Khan [who died in the same strike]. My father was always willing to lend a helping hand – he was always there to assist me and my fellow villagers.’
On March 17 2011, Haji Babat joined around 40 others – including a handful of alleged militants but also many locals, tribal elders and Khassadars – in a tribal jirga [meeting] to resolve a dispute over chromite mining. Locals later told researchers for Stanford Law School and New York University’s Living Under Drones report that they were seated in ‘two large circles about 12 feet apart’ when drones attacked.
When he heard about the strike, Khalil Khan immediately went to the Nomada bus depot to try to find his father. Arriving at the scene of the strike, he found injured victims and the depot in flames. Unable to identify the body parts lying on the ground, all Khalil Khan could do was ‘collect pieces of flesh and put them in a coffin’, he said.
Haji Babat left behind a household of eight. As a Khassadar he earned enough to support his family – 5,000 Pakistan rupees a month. Now his son Khalil struggles to support them. The Pakistani government offered three lakhs (roughly $3,200) to the families of the dead in compensation, but most families refused, according to Living Under Drones.
Video: Brave New Foundation
Sources and Citations
Sworn affidavit submitted to High Court in March 2012 (Bureau); Living Under Drones (Stanford/NYU)