Only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan identified as militants: report

Published: October 17, 2014
File photo of a US drone. PHOTO: AFP

File photo of a US drone. PHOTO: AFP

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.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Sara
    Oct 17, 2014 - 1:37PM

    Done strikers are taking place with the consent of the PML-N and earlier PPP, Musharraf led federal governments.


  • Umair
    Oct 17, 2014 - 1:39PM

    So the rest of 82% were murdered by US?


  • Aalia
    Oct 17, 2014 - 2:02PM

    Stop confusing people. If there were that much civilians why haven’t their relatives claimed it ?


  • Abdullah
    Oct 17, 2014 - 2:17PM

    So isn’t this a violation of Human Rights? Where is our HRPC? WHere are our politicians? It seems that Imran Khan’s stance is correct about these drones


  • Stranger
    Oct 17, 2014 - 2:18PM

    The DRONE – the national bird of Pak.


  • Hopeless
    Oct 17, 2014 - 2:42PM

    It is the most effective way to kill militants.


  • SAAD
    Oct 17, 2014 - 3:04PM

    They always claim this. But the tragedy is that there voices and shrieks don’t reach us in Islamabad


  • Sexton Blake
    Oct 17, 2014 - 3:42PM

    This would indicate that the Pakistan Government has allowed NATO thugs to murder about 2,000 innocent men, women and children. This figure is rapidly approaching that claimed for 9/11. If one included drone attacks elsewhere the 9/11 total would probably be greatly exceeded.


  • Shame
    Oct 17, 2014 - 3:43PM

    Such a shame that PM has allowed such strikes on the Pakistani citizens. Some illogical Pakistanis want the air strikes to continue in spite of the fact that more civilians are killed. They don’t realize that one day these drones will be hovering over their houses. I salute IK for his stance against Drones. Enough is enough. Nawaz must go.


  • Noman
    Oct 17, 2014 - 7:06PM

    Where is the Human Rights Commission now? Ms. Asma Jahangir..


  • cautious
    Oct 17, 2014 - 7:37PM

    Most of the Taliban killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan don’t carry identification papers — does that make then innocent civilians?


  • numbersnumbers
    Oct 17, 2014 - 9:06PM

    Too bad that the title and reporting of this article are incorrect, for by anyone reading the October 16 report on drone casualties from the The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, you will see that they ACTUALLY wrote was that “Of the drone strike victims who have been identified (named), 12% are identified as al-Qaeda”!!!
    Nowhere does the report state that “Only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan identified as militants”!


  • Sexton Blake
    Oct 17, 2014 - 9:06PM

    Most of the women and children killed do not carry identification papers ether. Do you think they are innocent civilian? It is obvious the dead children are not yours.


  • timi
    Oct 18, 2014 - 12:04AM

    These numbers are not accurate.


  • Sexton Blake
    Oct 18, 2014 - 3:52AM

    Whatever excuse you like to make it is becoming obvious that the people sending the drones do not know who they are killing.


  • Adam
    Oct 18, 2014 - 5:55AM

    Good article but sad title. Content is good you shouldnt have done 295/2379 thats not fair to a cynic he would doubt rest of the article.


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