News / Asia

Pakistan Criticized Over Civilian Drone Casualty Figures

FILE - Women supporters of a political party rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan.
FILE - Women supporters of a political party rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s government has come under severe criticism within and outside the country for providing conflicting estimates of the number of civilians killed in American drone strikes.
 
The Ministry of Defense told the Senate that drones have killed just over 2,200 people in the past five years, including 67 civilians. The rest, it said, were suspected terrorists, adding the claim that last year, the U.S. missile strikes did not kill any civilians.
 
Conflicting numbers

The latest official figures are far below estimates of civilian deaths in drone strikes Pakistani officials have provided to international rights groups, including the United Nations panel investigating the attacks.
 
Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer for civilian victims of drone strikes, said the federal government earlier this year put the civilian death toll since 2008 at around 1,400. He said the sharp downward revision is likely to undermine Pakistan’s efforts to seek an end to American drone operations on its territory.  
 
“I think it is going to impact the government’s own credibility and accountability that how they have come up with this figure and they even submitted it in parliament whereas in court of law they have submitted a completely different figure," Akbar said. "So either they are lying to the parliament or lying to the court.”
 
A U.N. panel investigating the American drone strikes recently quoted Pakistan's Foreign Ministry as telling panel chief Ben Emmerson that at least 400 civilians had died in drone strikes since 2004.  

Amnesty International said that last year alone it was able to confirm 19 civilian deaths in drone attacks, which have mostly targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal district.
 
Demand for explanation

United Nations Special Rapporteur Emmerson has called on the Pakistani government to explain discrepancies in its civilian casualty figures.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the Pakistani government considers drones as being counterproductive for its anti-militancy efforts and that they are causing collateral damage.
 
“The government has already evolved a national consensus on this matter and pursuing a strategy of taking up this matter bilaterally with the United States as well as raising it at the international fora,” Chaudhry said.
 
But the spokesman did not explain the discrepancy in official casualty figures. 
 
“There are different assessments about the numbers. We are in touch with the ministry of defense to get full details on this matter,” he told reporters.
 
US-Pakistan cooperation

While American officials do not publicly discuss the drone operations, they say in general that the missile strikes are carefully planned to minimize collateral damage and the deaths of civilians. U.S. intelligence officials have long hinted at Pakistani cooperation.
 
Opposition lawmakers like Shireen Mazari are demanding the government come clean on its policy regarding the U.S. drones.  
 
“They can't continue the lie that the previous government did," Mazari said. "People are not going to tolerate this duplicity anymore.”
 
Amnesty International says that the discrepancy in Pakistani death figures is an indicator of the secrecy over the U.S. drones program and that the U.S. government should should be more forthcoming about the specifics of the strikes.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid