KARACHI: The United States has once again stepped up its drone campaign in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan after a relatively long lull. The frequency of drone strikes had significantly decreased towards the end of former US president Barack Obama’s presidency.
However, the ascension of President Donald Trump has seen the resurrection of the use of the remotely-piloted lethal aircraft. Two months in, 2018 has already seen two drone strikes killing at least six ‘suspected’ militants in Pakistan.
US drone strikes started in Pakistan’s tribal regions in 2004. And data from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recorded 430 confirmed such aerial attacks which have resulted between 2,515 and 4,026 deaths while around 1,700 were reportedly injured.
Some of the most dreaded commanders of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including its founder Baitullah Mehsud and his successor Hakimullah Mehsud, and some key al Qaeda operatives were killed in missile strikes by US predator drones.
However, a vast majority of the victims in such attacks have been civilians, children and women among them. This ‘collateral damage’ as US officials call it has sparked off a global controversy about the legality of the US drone campaign.
Publicly, Pakistan condemns the US drone strikes in its territory as a violation of its sovereignty, but media reports suggest that Islamabad tacitly endorses such attacks and even in some cases provided intelligence on the targets.
Most of the drone strikes inside Pakistan have targeted Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the tribal regions, particularly the North and South Waziristan agencies. However, in a few cases the remotely-piloted US aircraft has also hit targets outside the tribal belt in the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Here is a comprehensive list of drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004.
Complete data of drone strikes in Pakistan