Documentary screening: The human face of the US drone policy

Upcoming film explores devastation and carnage caused in Pakistani tribal areas.

Maryam Usman October 27, 2013
Upcoming film explores devastation and carnage caused in Pakistani tribal areas.


Drone strikes are counterproductive, against humanitarian law and have embroiled Pakistan in a never-ending war. This was stated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan at the opening ceremony of the screening of a documentary film titled “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” on Saturday.

Khan added that drones raise anti-American sentiment in the region, adding that people in the tribal areas are against militants but are also against drones. Khan used the screening’s platform to launch his oft-repeated tirade against the US drone policy and present and past governments for selling Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Directed by US filmmaker Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foundation (BNF), the film has been co-produced by Jemima Khan. The first public screening of the film ahead of its worldwide premiere on October 30.

Jemima released a statement from London to coincide with the film’s screening, saying that Amnesty International last week warned that US officials responsible for the secret drone campaign in Pakistan, may have committed war crimes. The report highlights the case of a grandmother, Mamana Bibi, who was allegedly killed by a drone.

“We meet her devastated son and grandchildren in the film as well as the family of 16-year-old Tariq, who was killed in a drone strike three days before I met him in Islamabad. The film examines the US and UK-backed drone attacks in Pakistan, footage of these attacks on the ground. I believe these attacks are unethical and make every one of us less safe, because of the recruitment opportunities they afford extremists each time an innocent civilian is killed,” the statement added.

In a video message, director Greenwald, said, “This film wants to show the world the human face of a policy that correlates groups of young men as terrorists and children and elderly in collateral damage. I wanted the world to see that this policy is misguided and should be reevaluated. The deaths of these civilians must not be in vain.”

The film investigates the impact that US drone strikes at home and abroad through more than 70 separate interviews, including that of a former American drone operator who shares what he has witnessed in his own word.

Throughout the film, Greenwald intersperses in-depth interviews with never-before-seen footage from the tribal regions of Pakistan to humanise those who have been impacted by US drone policy. The film highlights the story of Aziz, killed by a drone a mere week after he participated in a public conference in 2011, a school teacher, Rafiqur Rehman, grappling with the loss of his elderly mother and the hospitalisation of his children due to a drone strike last year. In graphic detail, the film shows how delicate life can be in this virtual war where no one is accepting responsibility for the casualties.

In candid conversations with experts such as Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; David Kilcullen, former advisor to NATO and General Petraeus, and Vicki Divoli, former deputy legal advisor to the CIA’s counterterrorism centre, the film reveals that these covert military actions are often imprecise and result in creating more enemies for the American people who have little knowledge of how drone targets are set and killings are carried out.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2013.


rabia | 7 years ago | Reply

@csmann ...we'v been watching the US side of the story too long and that hasnt solved any problems for us......Jemima's documentary is worth pondering upon...heart breaking!

csmann | 7 years ago | Reply

@Asad K Shaikh: Should also read this:

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