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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora