Relatives of Mohammad Azam, killed while driving Mullah Mansoor across
, lodge a first investigation report for
By Kiyya Baloch and Jon Boone in
Mansoor, say no one from the government has contacted them about
compensation. Photograph: Jon Boone for the Guardian
The family of a taxi driver who was killed in a drone strike while driving the leader of the Afghan Taliban across
have lodged a criminal case against the Pakistan government. US
The unprecedented attack has thrown into uncertainty possible peace talks with the Taliban as well as US-Pakistan relations.
It has also devastated the family of Azam, who had been working for more than eight years as a driver in Taftan, a tiny desert town next to an important border crossing with
“He was the sole breadwinner of our large joint family, this was an attack on our family that hardly earns enough for two meals a day,” said Mohammad Qasim, Azam’s older brother.
Azam supported his wife, four children, and a disabled brother called Yar Muhammad.
A week after his death his children remain distraught and tearful. They describe their father as a “martyr”.
“Who will feed them now?” asked Qasim. “I appeal to the civilised world, including all those human rights bodies, to investigate the brutal murder of my brother and compensate his children.”
He has filed a “first investigation report” for murder, naming the “
authorities” who claimed responsibility for
the attack. The police are now obliged to investigate the matter. “I want
justice and demand action against the US authorities,” the document reads. US
It was a series of chance occurrences that led to Azam finding one of the
’s most wanted men sitting in his white
Toyota Corolla. US
Azam got much of his work though a small local transport company owned by Habib Saoli, which has its office near the exit of the Iranian-Pakistani border facility that straddles the border.
Mansoor emerged from that building shortly after on 21 May, returning to
after a long visit to Pakistan which, it has been reported, was for both
medical attention and to visit members of his family. Iran
He was passing himself off as a Pakistani citizen using a passport and national ID card with the false name Muhammad Wali.
He immediately began looking for a ride for the 600km journey to the city of
Said Ahmed Jan, an employee of a bus company, was trying to fill up the final seats of his Quetta-bound minibus but Mansoor wasn’t interested.
“He said, ‘I want to go in a car’, so I called Habib and asked him to provide a car,” said Jan. “Habib took a little commission and gave the job to Azam.”
Saoli said he could not remember whether Mansoor, who initially tried to haggle down the 14,000 rupees (£90) charge, had ever used one of his cars before.
Mansoor was likely to have thought himself safe given the
is not known to have carried out any
operations inside Balochistan despite the vast province being home to many of
the Taliban commanders with which the US has been at war for 15 years. US
The situation is unlike
Waziristan, a tribal region hundreds of miles to the
north, where militant commanders operate in constant fear of the CIA’s extensive drone programme.
Waziristan the targets are usually groups affiliated
with al-Qaida or the Haqqani Network, a Taliban ally. It is almost unheard of
for senior members of the core Afghan Taliban, often known as the Quetta Shura,
to be attacked inside . Pakistan
had already decided if it got the chance to
kill Mansoor, who the Pentagon described as an “obstacle to peace” who was
actively preventing Taliban commanders from holding talks with representatives
of the Afghan government. US
Attempting to foster such a reconciliation process is now a key part of
strategy in the region, with the country
having backed a Pakistan-led effort to bring the two sides together. US
But Mansoor had been responsible for soaring violence in
, forcing the Afghanistan government to abandon some territory to the
It is not known why the
waited to strike until Mansoor had completed
more than two-thirds of his journey, having been on the road for almost six
But the car was finally destroyed by missile strikes in the mid-afternoon, shortly after the pair had taken a rest stop near the town of
, roughly 35km from Afghan airspace. Ahmad Wal
Qasim said he could not believe the news of his brother’s death when he received it, or understand how the leader of the Taliban could have been able to travel so freely.
A local newspaper report of the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a
drone strike. US
“Why didn’t the hundreds of paramilitary troops stop him like they do with the common passengers?” he asked.
“Why did the Americans kill him just for driving a car?” he asked. “It was not written on [Mansoor’s] forehead that he is a Taliban leader. He was travelling with valid documents.”
Mureed Shah, a local government official for the area, said Azam had “no links with any militant group”.
“I know Azam personally. He was working on a low-paid job to support his poor family,” Shah said. “I have written to the government in
to pay compensation to the family.” Quetta
Qasim said no one from the government had as yet contacted him about compensation.
army has made payments to civilian victims
of military operations, including drone strikes, just over the border in US , but not in Afghanistan . Pakistan
Mustafa Qadri, a drones expert from Amnesty International, said the family had a right to bring a claim and demand damages.
has itself said very openly that it seeks to
minimise civilian casualties and provide compensation and other damages to
civilians who die,” he said. US
“So if this is justified as a spill over from the Afghan conflict why has the
not said anything about the unintended
victim of this strike?” US
Mohammad Azam was killed on 21 May while unwittingly taking Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor from the Iranian border to
, the capital of Balochistan. Quetta