Monday, January 04, 2010
Of the 44 Predator strikes carried out by the American drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan in 12 months of 2009, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of around 700 innocent civilian lives.
According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the Pakistani tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009. For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by the American drones, 140 civilian Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 percent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were innocent civilians.
Perhaps, the reality of the wars in Afganistan and Pakistan are a little different than reported in this country, and should induce more disquiet than that expressed by Gaius the other day. Beyond the indiscriminate killing of civilians associated with drone strikes, there is also the psychological distress experienced by the people who live in regions subjected to them.
Last summer, I interviewed someone from Voices for Creative Non-Violence who had traveled to Pakistan and spoke with people in the tribal areas. They told him that the drone strikes inflicted tremendous psychological distress upon the populace because the attacks could occur at any time. Hence, they must constantly be aware of whether drones have appeared in the sky, while ensuring that they can reach a place of relative safety. They must always be cognizant of their position in relation to their homes, their families, their fields and probable air strikes. Drones not only kill people, they eradicate any semblence of everyday life, disrupting its routines as well as opportunities for spontaneous play, surprise and affection. In effect, post-traumatic stress syndrome is interwoven into their lives, intensified with each passing day.