US drones traumatising tribal children

Published: December 19, 2012
Naeema, wearing a black scarf and Nabeela, wearing a red one, express their bitterness at the US drone strikes. PHOTO: TAHIR KHAN

Naeema, wearing a black scarf and Nabeela, wearing a red one, express their bitterness at the US drone strikes. PHOTO: TAHIR KHAN


The buzz of US drones is like the death knell for tribesmen. 

The United States claims that its no-more-covert drone campaign is effective in fighting al Qaeda and their cohorts – but it has unleashed a reign of terror in the tribal region.

Nabeela and Naeema – both cousins and below 10 – survived a recent drone attack in the Tappi area, 15 kilometres from Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency.

“I was watering animals and my three brothers were harvesting the maize crop when a drone struck,” said Nabeela, 8, sitting alongside her father Rafiqur Rehman in a guest house in Islamabad. Eight members of her family were wounded. Shrapnel from the missiles also hit Nabeela and Naeema. Subsequently, the family fled from their village, perhaps for good.

“I had spotted the drone before it rained missiles. Then I heard a huge explosion. The missiles landed and shrapnel hit all of us,” Nabeela told The Express Tribune. “I do not want the US drones [to] fly over our villages again,” she said, before urging that drone strikes be stopped.


Her cousin Naeema said she was playing with other children when the drone fired missiles, injuring her. “I was hit by shrapnel. I cried in pain as my arm bled,” she said, recalling the horror.

According to a September 2012 US study, US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more civilians than the US has acknowledged, traumatised innocent tribesmen.

The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law called for re-evaluation of the strategy, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties was extremely low – about 2%, according to CNN.

Rafiqur Rehman, whose mother was killed in the strike, asked: “Was my 65-year-old mother a terrorist or are these little girls terrorists?” He took Nabeela, Naeema and the rest of the injured family members to Islamabad for treatment.

Rehman condemned the gun attack on child activist Malala Yousafzai – but at the same time he said, “I want to ask our government and the world community as to why don’t they raise [their] voice for our children.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (18)

  • Truth detector
    Dec 19, 2012 - 4:50AM

    Thank you ET for trying to balance the debate on drone strike.

    Ok, drone-trolls, arm-chair warriors, chicken-hawks, its time to start trolling. Calling on @Mirza, @Cautious & @Vasan.


  • Something Clever
    Dec 19, 2012 - 5:34AM

    Guess who else goes through harsh psychological traumas? Victims, which include children, of the militants who reside in and are welcome in the tribal areas.
    For every action there’s a reaction and giving save havens to an opposing side in a war will also harm those around you whether directly or indirectly. Don’t want the drones? Get rid of the targets. The other side is trying to protect their women, children, people and countries, too. If that side is stronger than you, you’re most certainly going to be getting the majority of the numbers. Talking about traumatized kids is almost a non-factor in regard to it changing something. It requires you to get the other side to believe your child’s life is more important than their child’s life. That’s just not going to happen.
    If they’re intentionally being targeted, that’s a completely different situation, though.


  • Helix
    Dec 19, 2012 - 7:00AM

    While there is a definite need to take out the terrorists, the plight of these innocent children is indeed distressing. There has to be some other way. If only Pakistan could enforce the writ of the land in these areas. There would be no need for this.


  • ExposingTrolls
    Dec 19, 2012 - 7:29AM

    @ Truth detector

    You forgot Jat, Enlightened, BlackJack, Raj.


  • Dec 19, 2012 - 8:49AM

    When one of your children die through the insane actions of another American, you scream yourselves hoarse. We feel for them because we are human. When you kill our innocent children, what is your reaction? What is the reaction of your American mothers and fathers? Enjoy it while our corrupt government continues. Salams to innocent people killed by Americans.


  • Zeux
    Dec 19, 2012 - 9:51AM

    Where are you fake liberals?


  • E T
    Dec 19, 2012 - 11:05AM

    “I want to ask our government and the world community as to why don’t they raise [their] voice for our children.”
    because they are being payed for this


  • Super Star
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Drones dont deliberately aim at children. Their targets do . The drones are necessary to eliminate the psychos who would murder anybody indiscriminately and turn even little children into suicide bombers. More drones please!


  • 3footninja
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:50PM

    They are hiding under a rock, as usual… red-faced from embarrassment!!!
    Thank you PTI for raising this issue globally to make sure that this inhumane massacre gets the coverage it deserves.


  • 3footninja
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:00PM

    @Super Star:
    How callous of you to dismiss children who get butchered by drones as collateral damage! The real “psycho” it seems resides elsewhere than the tribal regions that these drones are targetting. Shame on you.


  • junaid
    Dec 19, 2012 - 4:13PM

    @Super Star

    there are more than million people living in FATA, out of which only about 5000-6000 would be suspected militants. If i m not a militant and have nothing to do with the war, even then a drone comes and kills my dearest ones, (Oops!! collateral damage), but i would not give a damn about theory of collateral damage. Think


  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 19, 2012 - 5:51PM

    @Super Star: It is strange that a gunman can kill a few children in the USA, and President Obama, quite rightly, expresses extreme concern via a supportive media. However, the media do not mention that over the last 11 years or so America has killed about half a million children in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Who are the real psycho. terrorists? I suppose we should be grateful that Washington has not accused a foreign country of carrying out the Newtown, Connecticut attack. Last time, at 9/11, the US accused the Taliban of being complicit in the act, and without any proof has so far used it as an excuse to rampage around the world, destroying the infrastructure of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as killing well over a million people. I think we could well say that the world has experienced an American inflicted holocaust. In regard to the traumatized children in the Tappi area, I think Pakistan can shoulder some of the blame for their Trauma. The Pakistan military and politicians could prevent the drone strikes if they wished.


  • Saleem
    Dec 19, 2012 - 9:12PM

    The hypocrisy of pakistanis is amazing. Are children not traumatised when your airforce bombed civilian areas. What about taliban terrorists blowing up children and innocent people in suicide and bomb attacks. Does that not traumatise children. Are children not traumatised when their schools are blown up.
    If you stop supporting and hiding terrorists there will be no need for drone attacks.
    And remember you all grew up on US Aid and still survive on it. Stop playing double games.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Dec 20, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Who signed an agreement with the US allowing drone attacks? Army chief Musharraf
    Who leased shamsi air base to US for drone attacks? Pakistanis
    So complain to your govt. and army generals to stop playing their double game. tell them to stop their addiction of US dollars.Recommend

  • TR
    Dec 20, 2012 - 2:08AM

    Pakistanis are not surviving on US aid..our corrupt leaders are..this filth of US aid is not needed by a vast majority of the people. It is indeed, the need of those who have prolonged their corrupt rule on the country over the years, by being puppets or the Washington administration..which leaves the byproduct of US “aid” along with the other “blessings” of this alliance with US. And yes we are complaining to our authorities and government..these country wide voices raised, by the more awared masses of the society, are a reflection of that only. We do not need the Talibans..we do not need US alliance either. The innocent civilians, are our Pakistanis..our brothers and children..mine and yours as well Mr. Saleem. We can not allow these attacks on our own kids and let the Obama administration get away with it, with the excuse of “collateral damage”. Should you not feel disgusted..when Obama’s counter terrorism assistant John Brennan refers to our innocent people as.. “his targets are a “cancerous tumour”, the rest of society “the tissue around it”.
    Thats what they think of us as and not the human beings..keep the died numbers information classified as it does not matter to them who is killed in the strikes..or whats’ the count of thier so called “collateral damage”. I am disgusted at Obama’s and so I am ashamed of our rulers, who have hardly to say anything either for the innocents killed, let alone any practical measures taken.

    At the end, yes we are hypocrates, but that does not leave us to be treated like a war junk yard, disrespected and humiliated by the corrupt rulers and thier masters. Families like Nabeela’s are hypocrates either, they dont need a US visa or aid, they are not going anywhere, poors have lived and died with this motherland only, so why they should suffer.


  • Super Star
    Dec 20, 2012 - 12:31PM


    How callous of You too to dismiss the threats, death and destruction which would be faced by countless number of little children if the monsters in the tribal areas of Pakistan are not eliminated.Perhaps there lives dont matter to YOU and is your “collateral damage”eh? Why are drones there in the first place ? If the Pak govt had acted with full force and established it writ in those areas and driven of the foreign fighters and extremists American drones would not be there. Its not the drones but the Govt of Pakistan who is responsible for any unfortunate deaths of civilians that occur. Get this straight ! Given the situation prevalent today, Drones are the only weapon the world has against these extremists who have taken refuge in these areas like cowards ,to plan terror attacks against countless innocent man women and children not only in Pakistan but outside too. They will stay and continue to recieve support both inside Pakistan and outside.
    You and your ilk can continue with your protests in airconditioned rooms and cosy chairs. Americans will do whatever it takes eliminate these monsters.


  • Jat
    Dec 21, 2012 - 12:29AM

    @Truth detector: “drone strike ?”

    Please educate me, which country is using F-16s, Thunders, Cobra choppers and heavy artillery on its own population ? One would think the tribal children will be traumatized by such attacks, no ? One wonders, if the bullets fired in to Malala’s head at pointblank range, would they have traumatized that brave girl ?

    The car bomb attack on Monday in a crowded market in the northwestern town of Jamrud; you think it would traumatize the children in the whole town ? Nah, they would only grow up stronger and brighter, especially after Kaptaan’s healing touch.

    Just imagine a car full of explosives blowing up, killing 20 people, wounding over 70, more than 20 vehicles burnt, pools of blood and charred pieces of human flesh littering the roadside. Trauma on children ? Nah, not from good Taliban celebrating.


  • Enlightened
    Dec 21, 2012 - 5:18PM

    Appreciate your apt and spot on comments. Indian army has never used aerial and artillery bombardment against militants in Kashmir and North-East to avoid killing of innocent people and destruction of public property, whereas Pak military uses both weopon systems but do not allow journalist/civilians to visit areas bombarded by it. Moreover, Pakistan is allowing militants use of its territory ie NW for launching attacks against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan despite being their ally. US also offered to mount coordinated operations with Pak military in NW which was rejected to save its strategic assets. Therefore, US left with no other alternative is justified using drones attacks which are accurate and killed hundreds of hard core militants and though some civilian might have been killed but Pakistan is totally responsible for the same.


More in K-P