News / Asia

Report: Pakistan Claims Many Civilian Deaths in US Drone Strikes

US officials say drone strikes weaken al-Qaida's threat in South Asia.
US officials say drone strikes weaken al-Qaida's threat in South Asia.
A British media outlet says a classified Pakistani government report shows U.S. drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan have killed many more civilians than Washington has acknowledged.
 
A U.S. official rejected the document's claim, saying it lacks credibility.
 
The non-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism said Tuesday it obtained the Pakistani report from anonymous sources and published the full version on its website.
 
The document lists U.S. drone strikes between 2006 and 2009 and shows at least 147 civilian deaths from the attacks, representing about one-fifth of total fatalities. It says most of the rest were militants.
 
A similar study issued this month by the New America Foundation said U.S. drones killed 191 civilians in the four-year period, from a total of 1,004 fatalities. The Washington-based public policy institute said the casualty figures were based on "credible" reports mostly from Western news agencies.
 
In a statement provided to VOA, the U.S. official said "the notion that the United States has undertaken operations in Pakistan that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis is ludicrous."
 
The official said the Pakistani document listing drone casualties is not credible because it relies "in part on erroneous media reporting."
 
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has carried out hundreds of drone strikes on militants in Pakistani tribal regions since 2004, to stop them from attacking U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
 
U.S. officials have said the drone strikes killed only about 50 non-combatants.
 
Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas have long been inaccessible to independent media, making it difficult to verify the identities of drone casualties.
 
Pir Zubair Shah, a former New York Times journalist who reported from Pakistan, told VOA it also is hard for Islamabad to confirm the casualties of drone attacks on militant-controlled districts.
 
"The government itself has as many problems of accessibility as anybody else would have, like a journalist or a human rights worker, or anyone who wants to investigate anything in the tribal areas," he said. 
 
Shah, who is from the South Waziristan tribal region and now lives in New York, said independent access to government-controlled tribal territory is heavily restricted as well. He said Pakistani authorities block roads to prevent reporters from discovering civilian casualties caused by Pakistani military operations.
 
Shah said the Taliban imposes similar road restrictions to stop journalists from learning about militant training camps and its sheltering of al-Qaida terrorists from U.S. drones. 
 
"After a typical strike, the Taliban cordons off the area. They take [away] the dead bodies and make sure that if there is an important person [among them], that he is buried as soon as [possible], especially outsiders, foreigners like al-Qaida, Uzbeks and others," he said. 
 
Shah said the immersion of Taliban fighters into the daily life of tribal communities also has blurred the line between militants and civilians. 
 
He said fighters often recruit teenagers and share living compounds with family members not directly engaged in combat. 
 
“There are a lot of things in terms of definitions [and] the social structure of the tribal areas, which create confusion. These things have to be cleared [up] before we reach a conclusion on these subjects," he said. 
 
The Pakistani government had no immediate response to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tony Arron from: UK
July 24, 2013 11:39 AM
US drone attacks are a clear violation of humanitarian law along with territorial violation, Pakistan should condemn on every International forum. US must stop this cruel act to save lives of innocent people.

by: sultan from: Islamabad
July 24, 2013 10:08 AM
Not Pakistan but it was also recognised by a US official Former US Deputy Ambassador to Pakistan Ms. Col. (Retd) Ann Wright, said that drones attacks were illegal and this weapon was used in Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan which had created backlash among their peoples.Drone attacks are counterproductive adding that Pakistan had suffered huge civilian and military losses in this war on terrorism.They are increasingly used in circumstances which violate the relevant rules of international law.

by: Will Simpson from: Arizona
July 24, 2013 10:04 AM
Our govt. is carrying out surgical strikes which are not just killing terrorists but many innocent women, children and elderly. It appalling really. I wonder what would have been the feeling inside our country had some other country been doing this to us. I'm ashamed to be an american. I wish President Obama and before that President Bush are tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

by: Skr from: (ldnm)
July 24, 2013 3:49 AM
Drones, i don’t know how effective they are against the militants but on ground any attack creates anger in the vicinity. The people on ground's anger create anti us thinking. Which means one drone is directly proportional to the anti us thinking in the area.
In Response

by: BABA from: islamabad
July 24, 2013 8:53 AM
Agree with the above comment. As drones are the violation of Pakistani sovereignty and Also the Violation of humanitarian and terorital law.

by: Tania from: KPK
July 24, 2013 3:03 AM
This is a height of technological treachery made by the global protector of the world US in the name of terrorism. Between 2006-2009, 75 attacks killed large number of innocent people including women and children. Very little volatile terrorist have been shot dead. It is absolutely massive killing of people in the name to protect the whole world.

by: Jennifer from: USA
July 24, 2013 2:06 AM
USA has always tried to abuse its status of global power by interfering into other state's matters. Pakistan is suffering from drone attacks since 2004, and Pakistan is not taking any strict action just to maintain stable relations with USA but USA should not manipulate this.. Now after the revelation of the report government of Pakistan should take some strong measure to stop USA from this activity, as this is the clear violation of human rights, their right to live and also breach to international state's law.

by: stethan from: Rio
July 24, 2013 1:26 AM
Recently a report on drone attacks revealed that US used phone signals to attack the targets. Unfortunately, united states with technologically sophistication, still unable to limit the collateral damages. Hundreds of innocent people have been killed in drone attacks. None of single US policy maker has any idea about intangible damages. The infrastructure destruction is beyond the imagination. United States is just violating international law and killing innocent people. Voices have been raised against illegal drone attacks by different non-governmental organizations. But none is bothering to here.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs