Over the past year, the human cost of the air war in Afghanistan has received some attention with almost daily bombings and occasional reports of civilian casualties. In fact, air strikes have been a major cause of the increased civilian deaths in the war.
An article published over the weekend by the Pakistani newspaper The News reports that drone attacks conducted by the United States against targets in Pakistan have been responsible for significant civilian casualties:
“Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.”
The figures compiled by Pakistani authorities show that civilians are paying dearly for the U.S. attacks, while also raising questions about the efficacy of the attacks–both in terms of their success in killing “militants” and whether or not they are fueling anti-Americanism.
In recent months, attacks inside Pakistan have taken place with regularity as the U.S. intensifies its war against “militants” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These attacks–conducted with the use of unmanned drones operated by the United States–have been increasing. News reports have indicated that they are displacing thousands of Pakistanis.
Despite criticism, the U.S. has indicated that it will likely increase its usage of drones and expand the list of targets that they are attacking.