Pakistan says US drones killed only 67 civilians since 2008

By AFP
Published: October 30, 2013
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According to the defence ministry submission, not a single civilian died in the 59 strikes conducted in 2012 and 2013, but 319 militants were killed. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

According to the defence ministry submission, not a single civilian died in the 59 strikes conducted in 2012 and 2013, but 319 militants were killed. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s defence ministry said Wednesday US drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas have killed 67 civilians since 2008, a surprisingly low figure given previous casualty estimates.

The figure represents three per cent of the total killed in the past five years according to ministry data given in a written answer to a question from the Senate.

The submission said there had been 317 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2008, killing 2,160 militants and 67 civilians.

Critics say the campaign targeting suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants is counterproductive because it kills civilians and some have even accused Washington of war crimes.

The US defends the campaign as just, legal and accurate, insisting past estimates of civilian casualties in the hundreds are excessive.

Pakistan regularly condemns the attacks as a violation of sovereignty and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif used a trip to Washington last week to press for their end.

According to the defence ministry submission, not a single civilian died in the 59 strikes conducted in 2012 and 2013, but 319 militants were killed.

The areas targeted by drones are off-limits to foreign journalists and aid groups, making it extremely difficult to verify the number and identity of those killed in drone strikes.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism puts the total death toll since the campaign began in Pakistan in 2004 at between 2,525 and 3,613.

The Bureau says that between 407 and 926 of those killed were civilians – 16 to 25 per cent of the total, much higher than the new Pakistani government figure would suggest.

UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson said in a written report this month that Pakistan had told him that 400 of the 2,200 victims of drone attacks over the past decade – 18 percent – were civilians.

Last week Amnesty International highlighted two drone attacks it said appeared to have no legal justification and called on Washington to investigate.

The drone programme, which began under president George W. Bush, accelerated significantly after Barack Obama came to power but has tailed off noticeably in the past year.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • pakistani
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:30PM

    only 67? so it means 1 US civilian = 100 pakistani civilian. that is why they have used only with 67 lives

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  • Sadist
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:31PM

    “not a single civilian died in the 59 strikes conducted in 2012 and 2013”
    Pack of lies. Just yesterday a drone victim family had a hearing at US Congress and the elderly lady was killed in ‘2012’.
    This fact alone is enough to expose credibility of this report.
    BTW ain’t it surprising that this sudden shift in official figures comes soon after Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington (while same officials gave much higher civilian casualties figures previously)? Connect the dots & know the origin of this ‘Made in Pakistan’ report – Washington.

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  • bangash
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:34PM

    LOL….military clearly wants to keep drone strikes as an option but civilian govt and FO don’t like them.

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  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:34PM

    ETBLOGS1987

    “According to the defence ministry submission, not a single civilian died in the 59 strikes conducted in 2012 and 2013, but 319 militants were killed.”

    Well if this is the case then, why is Pakistan requesting US to stop drones? It wants to protect the miltants?

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  • Saleem
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:47PM

    Everyone knows this. The ttp and its supporters and sympathisers (like mr taliban khan) are shouting because the drone strikes are highly effective at taking out terrorist targets.Recommend

  • Muddassir
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:51PM

    Who needs enemies when we got institutions like this ‘Defence Ministry’ ruling over us.

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  • Muddassir
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:52PM

    Who needs enemies when we got institution like this “ministry” ruling over us.

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  • Fareed
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:54PM

    The question is whether just ONE innocent death is justified to do such attacks or must their die a few thousands of innocents before anything is declared as WRONG ?

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  • Sherif
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:58PM

    Total confusion, is pakistan justify drone strike or against it ! Ridding boats with legs on two boats.

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  • jg
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:06PM

    @gp65:
    read PM demand.stop it because it is violation of sovereignity, not that it is killing innocent.
    truth is out, it is targeting more terrorists.

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  • Crazy Canuck
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:09PM

    “Only” Horrible choice of words. Just plain horrible. Horrible horrible horrible.

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  • Ahmed
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:16PM

    Whether they kill terrorists or not the USA have no right to carry out attacks in a sovereign nation like ours!! today its the KPK tomorrow they’re gonna take down targets in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad or any other major city and use the pretext of terrorists!!! Come one people this is your homeland which is being attacked every day!!

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  • Byzantine
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:22PM

    The lower estimate are probably more true. The drone attacks are devastating the terrorist network. That is where the real hurt lies among pro-Taliban supporters, not so much their consideration for innocent lives, whom Taliban and Al-Qaeda love to massacre on their own.

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  • unbelievable
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:25PM

    @Ahmed:

    Whether they kill terrorists or not
    the USA have no right to carry out
    attacks in a sovereign nation like
    ours!!

    Suggest you look up the definition of “sovereign”. Seems to me the Taliban control the territory where drones operate – even your elected leaders can’t/don’t visit.

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  • John the Baptist
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:28PM

    @gp65:

    Do you have any objectivity and/or analytic prowess left or has it all been sacrificed at the altar of jingoism? How is it possible that over two years, drones killed 319 militants and not a SINGLE innocent person?

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  • John the Baptist
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:29PM

    @gp65:

    Do you have any objectivity and/or analytic prowess left or has it all been sacrificed at the altar of jingoism? How is it possible that over two years, drones killed 319 militants and not a SINGLE innocent person???

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  • John the Baptist
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:30PM

    @gp65:

    Do you have any objectivity and/or analytic prowess left or has it all been sacrificed at the altar of jingoism? How is it possible that over two years, drones killed 319 militants and not a SINGLE innocent person????

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  • John the Baptist
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:35PM

    @gp65:

    If they are so accurate, why don’t you ask the US to help you eliminate a few “terrorists” in Kashmir?

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  • ashish
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:37PM

    @Ahmed:

    just like pakistan sends terrorists in india and violate the sovereignty , US can also violate pakistan’s sovereignty by drones.

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  • Aisha
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:37PM

    @Ahmed:
    the terrorist that hide in our homeland attack others everyday……..

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  • Patriot
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:37PM

    By God, I literally, I mean literally laughed reading this like I read a great joke. You serious Paki ?

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  • Waziristani
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:44PM

    I can claim that even a single innocent has not been killed by Drones. A civilian casualty occurs when a target terrorist is the guest. In my area, Wana SWA, I personally do not know about a single innocent death occurred in Drone attack. I have never been to North Waziristan but my friends from the area share the same stories. Karim Khan from NW, whose brother and son were killed by drones, was actually hosting commander Muhammad Umar from Waziristan. While targeting Umar, he lost family members.

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  • Shamy
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:56PM

    What does “only 67” mean ? Would the Defence Ministry say “only” if any of their own family members died in this “only” ??? Disgusted !

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  • Baba Ji
    Oct 30, 2013 - 9:57PM

    What a disgraceful nation we are … whole world is now getting restless on the killings of OUR innocent civilians and we ourselves are denying that … we deserve to die … no doubt !!!!

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  • Last Word
    Oct 30, 2013 - 10:05PM

    @jg:
    Pakistan should not be raking up the sovereignty issue with US as firstly, it allowed US and even cooperated with them for drone attacks in your country till date. Secondly, Pakistan has no writ over North Waziristan and lastly your military has issued this statement making it clear that drones only kill terrorists which has put the final nail on the drone’s coffin, undermining your civilian government’s stand. So, just relax and enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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  • North Waziristani
    Oct 30, 2013 - 10:24PM

    @Waziristani:
    Shame on you for lying so openly. I bet you are sitting in Nevada commenting on ET while your fellow ‘Waziristani’ hits the trigger on the drones video game.

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  • Jibran
    Oct 30, 2013 - 10:32PM

    The myth of civilian casualties was fabricated by Taliban khan in connivance with the terrorists. Then everyone jumped on this band wagon. This guy is a security risk, and must be tried for playing with the miseries and blood of 50 thousand Pakistanis. And then he has the nerves to call his party “tehreek e insaaf”‘. What a sick joke with the victims.

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  • Xnain
    Oct 30, 2013 - 11:07PM

    @pakistani:
    At least read the news before making a comment

    2,160 militants and 67 civilians.

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  • Amitabh Bachchan
    Oct 31, 2013 - 12:06AM

    Wow ! then why not continue the strikes for ever? These drones should be welcome by your govt.

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  • Ali
    Oct 31, 2013 - 12:51AM

    This should now silence the big mouths of apologists, doing politics on drones. This means for years they have been campaigning in favour of the terrorists, missguiding the nation, giving the terrorists ideological and geographical support. While at the same time showing no moraal courage to condemn thousands of innoocent cilians killed by the terrorists. This is a matter of shame for a us as a nation. We so easily fall prey to the rhetoric of the apologists duped in the name of religion and jehad.

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  • Maestro
    Oct 31, 2013 - 1:11AM

    This revelation is a bullet on forehead for every Pakistani who claimed that more than thousand civilians were killed. If Pakistan wants to avoid it’s innocent people being killed then act against Taliban and likes and stop negotiating or protecting them as assets. But again I am happy to know that no Pakistani bleeding green would want to do that.

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  • Zen
    Oct 31, 2013 - 1:24AM

    Pakistan is in this situation because they are blind crazy and accept whatever comes out from the Defence. Pack of lies have started falling but the people will still believe them.

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  • Ahmed
    Oct 31, 2013 - 1:50AM

    @aashish

    How about the Indian government let Pakistan carry out air strikes in India where the terrorists are holed up? I mean we will only be killing “terrorists”… no innocent people we swear!!!! Seems only fair to the attitude you have against US strikes on Pakistan

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  • Gupta
    Oct 31, 2013 - 5:14AM

    @Ahmed:
    Please do that favour to us.

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  • Nand
    Oct 31, 2013 - 5:23AM

    @John the Baptist: “If they are so accurate, why don’t you ask the US to help you eliminate a few “terrorists” in Kashmir?
    We have an able Army that takes cares of your export. Our Army is not sleeping on the job nor playing golf.

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  • Sameer
    Oct 31, 2013 - 5:42AM

    Keep the drones coming !!

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