Children in North Waziristan with debris from drone missile
"I wonder, why was I victimized?"
Pakistani victims of U.S. drone strikes speak out in a new report on increasing civilian casualties in the region
By Justin Elliott
A new report from the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) concludes that innocent civilians in northwest Pakistan are getting hammered by all sides -- the U.S. (drone strikes), the Pakistan military (ground and aerial bombardment) and local militants (terrorist attacks).
Christopher Rogers, the Harvard-trained lawyer who authored the report, did some great reporting. He interviewed many family members of slain Pakistani civilians -- voices that are virtually never heard in the U.S. media. Here, for example, is his summary of the first drone strike on President Obama's watch, way back in January 2009:
The Obama Administration carried out its first drone strike in Pakistan on January 23, 2009, three days after the President’s inauguration. However, instead of striking a Taliban hideout, the missiles struck the house of Malik Gulistan Khan, a tribal elder and member of a local pro-government peace committee. Five members of his family were killed. “I lost my father, three brothers and my cousin in this attack,” said Adnan, his 18 year-old son. Adnan’s uncle claimed, “We did nothing, have no connection to militants at all. Our family supported the government and in fact … was a member of a local peace committee.”
The family provided CIVIC with detailed documentation of the deaths of the five family members, including a report from the Assistant Political Agent of South Waziristan and a local jirga requesting the government to pay compensation. The documentation confirms the family was innocent.
Reliable numbers of how many civilians have been killed by U.S. drones are impossible to come by.