Tag Archives: Drones

New Light on the Accuracy of the CIA’s Predator Drone Campaign in Pakistan

By Matthew Fricker, Avery Plaw and Brian Glyn Williams

Widely-cited reports of the inaccuracy and disproportionality of civilian to militant deaths in the CIA’s ongoing Predator drone campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan are grossly misleading. The most detailed database compiled to date, assembled by the authors of this article, indicates (among other important findings) that the strikes have not only been impressively accurate, but have achieved and maintained a greater proportionality than either ground operations in the area or targeting campaigns elsewhere. [1]

This finding is striking because highly critical reports over the last year, emanating in particular from the Pakistani press, have impugned both the accuracy of the CIA’s drone strikes in the tribal areas of that country and the proportionality of the civilian collateral damage they cause. In April 2009, for example, the Pakistani daily The News published an article by terrorism expert Amir Mir reporting Predator strikes had killed only 14 high value al-Qaeda targets but were responsible for 687 civilian fatalities – a 1:49 ratio of terrorist to civilians (The News [Islamabad], April 10, 2009; see also Terrorism Monitor, February 19).  To put it another way, Mir’s report suggested that 98.14% of fatalities associated with the Predator strikes were civilians. On February 1 of this year, Mir added that Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda

Fatima Bhutto: please focus on fiction

Nasima Zehra Awan

Pakistan may have lost a talented fiction writer when Fatima Bhutto went into journalism. Clearly, she is adept at spinning a tale, fudging facts and re-defining reality in a manner that is the exclusive domain of talented story tellers. Throw in her photogenic looks and her propensity to endear herself with the security establishment and she is the poster child for them. This poor author does not share the same connections as Fatima Bhutto, so she will clearly not pass of (Fatima’s) alleged ISI links as established fact. Clearly, my humble perception was reinforced when I read her recent article, “Why my uncle Asif Ali Zardari’s rule in Pakistan cannot be trusted“.

The most outlandish spin in her article was that it was President Zardari who had banned facebook in Pakistan:”banned 500 websites — including YouTube, Facebook and Google — under the pretence of protesting against anti-Islamic material on the web” Two months ago, in their zeal to accommodate their political benefactors, Pakistan’s compromised Judiciary allowed for petitions that called for the banning of facebook and all the sites alluded to by Fatima. In their Islamist zeal, the Lahore High Court passed a judicial order that called for closing internet access to facebook. Zardari’s coalition government, already being lynched by the Judiciary had no choice but to comply. It is extremely disingenuous of Fatima to completely remove the context and the major instigators of internet censorship in Pakistan and place the blame on the President. The latter had already limited his role in governance by initiating and guiding the parliament to pass the 18th Amendment that gave back most executive powers to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers! What Fatima completely fails to mention is that the temporary facebook banning in Pakistan had nothing to do with Zardari and everything to do a politicized Judiciary that was returning favours to its Jamaat Islami backers. Continue reading

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Filed under Benazir Bhutto, journalism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Politics

Pakistan is in pieces

[There is plenty here to stimulate a robust debate; Not that surprising, considering who the author is. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this article.]

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 6 April 2010             By Robert Fisk

I tried, in Pakistan, to define the sorrow which so constantly afflicts this country. The massive loss of life, the poverty, the corruption, the internal and external threats to its survival, the existentialism of Islam and the power of the army; perhaps Pakistan’s story can only be told in a novel. It requires, I suspect, a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky.

Pakistan ambushes you. The midday heat is also beginning to ambush all who live in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. Canyons of fumes grey out the vast ramparts of the Bala Hisar fort.

“Headquarters Frontier Force” is written on the ancient gateway. I notice the old British cannon on the heights – and the spanking new anti-aircraft gun beside it, barrels deflected to point at us, at all who enter this vast metropolis of pain. There are troops at every intersection, bullets draped in belts over their shoulders, machine guns on tripods erected behind piles of sandbags, the sights of AK-47s brushing impersonally across rickshaws, and rubbish trucks and buses with men clinging to the sides. There are beards that reach to the waist. The soldiers have beards, too, sometimes just as long.

I am sitting in a modest downstairs apartment in the old British cantonment. A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.” Continue reading

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Filed under Army, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Judiciary, Pakistan, Partition

The Year of the Drone, by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann

We are reproducing an important paper on the drone attacks in Pakistan. This report analyzes the numbers behind the drone attack casualties. This paper further discusses the drone policy implications for the US, Pakistan as well as for the Taliban. I encourage you to visit the New America website for full report with various graphs, further statistics and footnotes that give important details behind the information given in this paper (AZW)

 

Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper

The Year of the Drone

An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann

February 24, 2010

For full report please go to http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_year_of_the_drone

Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the present have killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.

The bomber, a Jordanian doctor linked to al Qaeda, detonated his explosives on December 30, 2009, at an American base in Khost in eastern Afghanistan, killing himself and seven CIA officers and contractors who were operating at the heart of the covert program overseeing U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s volatile north-western tribal regions. The suicide attack was a double cross: Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the bomber, had earlier provided information to the CIA that was used in targeting some of those drone attacks.

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the current number three in al Qaeda, praised the suicide attack, saying it was “to avenge our good martyrs” and listing several militant leaders felled by drone strikes.

Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, baluchistan, FATA, Islamabad, North-West Frontier Province, Obama, Pakistan, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA