KARACHI: A recent research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan have been identified as militants. Moreover, the research also stated that fewer than 4% of the people killed have been identified as members of al Qaeda.
The research contradicts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim last year that only “confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level” were fired at.
The number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has hit 400 between June 2004 and October 2013.
Of the 2,370 people killed in these strikes, 704 have been identified, of which only 295 were reported to be members of some kind of armed group.
More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30% are not even linked to a specific group.
The Bureau has a project titled Naming the Dead, which has gathered the names and details of people killed by CIA drones in Pakistan since June 2004.
According to Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistani researcher for Amnesty International, the findings “demonstrate the continuing complete lack of transparency surrounding US drone operations.”
Responding to the Bureau’s investigation, US National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that the strikes were only carried out when there was “near-certainty” that no civilians would be killed.
“The death of innocent civilians is something that the US Government seeks to avoid if at all possible. In those rare instances in which it appears non-combatants may have been killed or injured, after-action reviews have been conducted to determine why, and to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimise such risk to non-combatants in the future,” said Hayden.
Leaked documents show that the US believes determining a militant is an imminent threat that “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
Moreover, according to the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) – a law signed by Congress three days after the September 11 2001 attacks — the president has the right to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those behind the attacks on the US, wherever they are.