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Who is behind lopsided figures of civilian drone victims?

Ansar Abbasi



Peshawar High Court was told of 1,450 dead, defence ministry says only 67 killed


November 4, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Who has lied to the nation and who has defrauded the state institutions, parliament or judiciary, as the defence ministry has told the National Assembly that only 67 civilians were killed by drones since 2008, whereas the tribal authorities have informed a high court that this figure is around 1,450.

Of late, the defence ministry has informed the lawmakers that only 67 civilians were among the 2,227 people killed in 317 drone strikes since 2008.

However, after physical verification of the drone victims in North and South Waziristan, the tribal authorities recently told the Peshawar High Court that the drones had killed 1,450 civilians in the last five years.

The defence ministry figures have caused an uproar within parliament and outside and even the foreign ministry had to publicly differ with the former, yet neither any inquiry had been ordered nor any head has rolled.

As compared to the defence ministry, the tribal authorities have presented what they claimed physically verified the number of civilian victims before the Peshawar High Court in the case seeking an end to drone attacks. The number given by the tribal authorities is far higher than the one presented by the defence ministry.

The PHC, in its order on the drone case, has quoted these figures as verified. The PHC order said: "According to the report, based on physical verification, submitted by the Political Authorities of North Waziristan Agency, 896 Pakistani civilians, residents of the said Agency, were killed during the last five (5) years till December 2012 while 209 were seriously injured.

"In these drone attacks, only 47 foreigners were killed and 6 were injured. Many houses & vehicles of different categories, make & model, worth millions of dollars were destroyed during these attacks. Besides, many cattleheads belonging to the local residents were torn to pieces & charred. Similarly, in South Waziristan Agency 70 drone strikes were carried out during last five (5) years till June 2012 in which 553 local civilians were killed, 126 were injured, 3 houses were destroyed and 23 vehicles were badly damaged."

About the killing of huge number of local civilians, the PHC said: "The United States through self-framed opinion labeled these foreign elements as their enemy. The US decision-making troika, the President, Pentagon & CIA have joined hands to carry out drone strikes in these areas on spy information to hit & kill these elements, however, the ratio of killing of foreign elements is negligible while local civilians, non-combatants casualties are shockingly considerable, beside damage caused to the properties of the local population, their households and other moveable properties including cattle heads, in great number, is a painful phenomena."

The PHC regretted: "The most shocking, gruesome & goriest side of these ruthless strikes is that the degree of precision is hardly maintained and while the figures, given above, would prove that these are carried out at random and innocent civilians casualties mostly of infant babies, pre-teen & teenage children, women & others including their properties are hundred times greater than those killed alleged to be militants."

The judgment handed down in early May this year, the PHC order added: "The President of Pakistan, the Parliament through unanimous resolution, the Prime Minister & his Cabinet and Military Leadership have openly condemned these attacks and have lodged soft protests with the US Authorities through its Ambassador in Pakistan. The other side of the story given by the U.S Authorities is that the then dictator, General (R) Parvez Musharraf has given verbal consent to carry out these attacks in the tribal belt of North & South Waziristan Agency but there is nothing in writing to that effect with the Government of Pakistan or with the Government of USA to lend support to the viewpoint of the US Authorities."



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