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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid