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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More