Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, And Trauma to Civilians
September 27, 2012
International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic
The dominant narrative about the use of US drones for the "targeted killing" of terrorists in Pakistan is of a surgically precise tool with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false. While the use of drones has undergone a dramatic escalation under President Obama, to date, the government has refused to provide necessary details on how targets are chosen, or how legality and accountability are ensured.
Living Under Drones
Death, Injury, And Trauma to Civilians
From US Drone Practices in Pakistan
International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic
(Stanford Law School) & Global Justice Clinic (New York University School of Law)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling "targeted killing" of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.1
This narrative is false.
Following nine months of intensive research -- including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting -- this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies.
Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.
Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.
It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.
First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been "no" or "single digit" civilian casualties."
It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan.
The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.3 TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals.
Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team.
It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.
From June 2004 through mid- September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.
Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted- for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.
Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.
The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators.
Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of "high-level" targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just 2%.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, "drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants." Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.6
Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US.
The US government's failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy.
US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.
In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits.
A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.
This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:
The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies.
The US should:
Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;
Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly requested by various groups and officials: the targeting criteria for so-called "signature" strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;8
Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;
In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.
The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.
Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to "militant" deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of "militant" deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as "militants," absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.
The report is divided into five chapters: Background and Context, Numbers, Living Under Drones, Legal Analysis, and Strategic Considerations. Immediately following is a brief account of the methodology of this study, including challenges faced by our research team. The report then turns to the five main chapters:
'Background and Context,' Chapter 1, provides brief background and context on: the nature of unmanned aerial vehicles; drones and targeted killings as a response to 9/11; Obama's escalation of the drone program; the decision-making process behind drone strikes; the Pakistani government's divided role; conflict, non-state groups, and military forces in northwest Pakistan; the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA); and the limits on access to FATA.
'Numbers,' Chapter 2, assesses the debate on drone casualties, outlining the factors that produce conflicting and often unreliable reporting by government and media sources. Examining the methods and content of three well-known and widely cited drone data aggregators, this chapter explains what information can be gleaned from these sources, and challenges the oversimplified civilian/"militant" binary reproduced in many accounts.
'Living under Drones,' Chapter 3 sets forth the core findings of this report. The Chapter begins with firsthand narrative accounts of three specific drone strikes. For each of these strikes, there is significant evidence of civilian casualties. It further examines the broader impacts of drone surveillance and strikes in North Waziristan, including on the families of those killed, education and economic opportunities, emotional trauma, widespread fear, and the undermining of community institutions.
'Legal Analysis,' Chapter 4 provides an overview of the terms of debate on the legality of the US targeted killing program and drone campaign in Pakistan under both international and US domestic law. It describes the law related to key issues: whether US drone practices violate Pakistan's sovereignty; when and which individuals may lawfully be targeted; and the extent to which the US has met, or failed to meet, its international legal obligations related to transparency and accountability.
'Strategic Considerations,' Chapter 5 examines the strategic implications of US drone strike policies in Pakistan. In particular, it considers available evidence about their effectiveness in hampering attacks by armed non-state actors, their impact on attitudes in Pakistan and the surrounding region toward the US, their geopolitical implications, and their effect on decision-making related to war and the use of force in the US.
The report includes several appendices. The first appendix provides additional narratives from victims and witnesses to drone strikes, as well as others directly affected by drones. The second appendix charts the timing and intensity of drone attacks between January 2010 and June 2012 in light of parallel political events and key moments in Pakistani-US relations. The third appendix compares statements of US officials on drone strikes with strike data reported by a leading strike data aggregator.
This report is based on over 130 detailed interviews with victims and witnesses of drone activity, their family members, current and former Pakistani government officials, representatives from five major Pakistani political parties, subject matter experts, lawyers, medical professionals, development and humanitarian workers, members of civil society, academics, and journalists.
Our research team also engaged in extensive review of documentary sources, including: news reports; legal, historical, political, medical, and other relevant scholarship; civil society and analysts' reports; court filings and other legal documents; government documents; and physical evidence.
Our research team conducted two separate investigations in Pakistan (including in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, and Rawalpindi) in February-March 2012 and May 2012.10 Investigations included interviews with 69 individuals ('experiential victims') who were witnesses to drone strikes or surveillance, victims of strikes, or family members of victims from North Waziristan.
These interviewees provided first-hand accounts of drone strikes, and provided testimony about a range of issues, including the missile strikes themselves, the strike sites, the victims' bodies, or a family member or members killed or injured in the strike.12 They also provided testimony about the impacts of drone surveillance and attacks on their daily lives, and their views of US policy.
Interviews were arranged through local contacts in Pakistan, including journalists, lawyers, tribal leaders, experts, and civil society members. The majority of the experiential victims interviewed were arranged with the assistance of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a legal nonprofit based in Islamabad that has become the most prominent legal advocate for drone victims in Pakistan.
Those interviewees, who undertook an extremely unsafe, time-consuming, and difficult trip in order to be interviewed, were all male, as poor security conditions, together with cultural norms of purda (separation of men and women), restricted women's ability to travel.
One of the experiential victims interviewed is a female Waziri now residing outside Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Nine of the 69 experiential victims are clients of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. None of the interviewees were provided compensation for participating in investigations for this report.13
The interviews were conducted by teams that included at least one Stanford or NYU researcher, as well as a translator. Some interviews also included a researcher from either Reprieve or the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. The interviews with individual Waziris were semi-structured, and lasted from approximately thirty minutes to two hours.
Security, confidentiality, and privacy for those interviewed were key concerns. Our research team applied informed consent guidelines to all interviews, and interviewees chose if or how they wished to be identified in this report.
We do not include the names and other identifying information of interviewed individuals in this report when so requested by the person concerned, or when the research team determined that doing so might place the individual at risk.
Thus, many of the experiential victims have been given pseudonyms in this report. All of the medical and humanitarian professionals, and most of the journalists with whom we met, also expressed concerns for their safety, and requested anonymity.
In addition to our interviews with medical professionals in Pakistan, medical experts at Stanford reviewed this report's sections concerning the psychological and physiological impacts of drones. These experts also met with our research team to discuss our findings and assist in our analysis of the classification of symptoms.
As part of our effort to speak with relevant stakeholders, our research team requested the input of the US government, and sought to share our findings in advance of this report's release. Via letter sent July 18, 2012, we requested a meeting with the National Security Council (NSC), "the President's principal arm for coordinating [national security and foreign] policies among various government agencies." At this writing, we had not received a response to our request.
The foremost challenge the research team faced was the pervasive lack of US government transparency about its targeted killing and drone policies and practices in Pakistan. This secrecy forced us to conduct challenging primary research into the effects of drones in Pakistan. Primary research in FATA is difficult for many reasons.
First, it is very difficult for foreigners physically to access FATA, partly due to the Pakistani government's efforts to block access through heavily guarded checkpoints, and partly due to serious security risks.
Second, it is very difficult for residents of Waziristan to travel out of the region. Those we interviewed had to travel hundreds of kilometers by road to reach Islamabad or Peshawar, in journeys that could take anywhere from eight hours to several days, and which required passing through dozens of military and police checkpoint stops, as well as, in some cases, traveling through active fighting between armed non-state groups and Pakistani forces.
Third, mistrust, often justifiable, from many in FATA toward outsiders (particularly Westerners) inhibits ready access to individuals and communities.
Fourth, many residents of FATA fear retribution from all sides–Pakistani military, intelligence services, non-state armed groups–for speaking with outsiders about the issues raised in this report.
Fifth, practices of purda in FATA make it extremely difficult for women to travel, for outsiders to speak directly to Waziri females, or to obtain information about females through male family members. It is often considered inappropriate, for example, for men to provide the names of female victims of drone strikes.
In addition, strict segregation can mean that neighbors or extended family members may not know how many women and children were killed or injured in a strike.
Because of these obstacles to speaking directly with women, most of the information the research team obtained about the impacts of drones on the daily lives of women came second-hand through husbands, sons, fathers, and in-laws, as well as by health care providers and members of civil society working in the area.
Following interactions and the building of trust between our researchers and interviewees, a number of those interviewed expressed an interest in facilitating interviews with female witnesses and victims in future investigations.
Sixth, and as documented in the 'Background and Context' Chapter, FATA has very low literacy rates. This, in conjunction with the fact that much information about incidents in Waziristan is not recorded in written form, made it difficult for some interviewees to pinpoint the exact dates of certain strikes or to identify in terms that could be related to outsiders the precise geographical locations of small villages.
The research team has made extensive efforts to check information provided by interviewees against that provided in other interviews, known general background information, other reports and investigations, media reports, and physical evidence wherever possible.
Many of the interviewees provided victims' identification cards and some shared photographs of victims and strike sites, or medical records documenting their injuries. We also reviewed pieces of missile shrapnel.
CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
This section provides background and contextual information relevant to understanding US drone policies in Pakistan. It provides a basic overview of what unmanned aerial vehicles are, how the US has been using this technology as part of a broader effort to engage in "targeted killing" of alleged enemies, and how the use of drones has undergone a dramatic escalation under President Obama.
The section also provides some background on Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the area in which most drone strikes take place, on the residents of North Waziristan who live under drones, and on armed non-state actors and military forces in northwest Pakistan.
The US government has been using armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to carry out hundreds of covert missile strikes in northwest Pakistan since at least June 2004. Drone strikes now form a key part of the US government's approach to counterterrorism and enable the US to kill from afar without immediate risk to American lives.
For years, the government would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the strikes, and only began to outline the practices and legal justifications following significant pressure from domestic and international civil society.
To date, the government has refused to provide necessary details on how the program works, how targets are chosen, or how legality and accountability are ensured, leading civil society groups repeatedly to request this information. Instead, the government insists that the killings are lawful, and that virtually all of those targeted are linked to Al Qaeda and associated forces and pose a threat to US national security.
Recently, anonymous government officials have revealed that, for the purpose of tracking civilian casualties, the government presumes that all military-age males killed in drone strikes are combatants.
DRONES: AN OVERVIEW
According to the US Department of Defense, a drone, or unmanned aircraft, is an "aircraft or balloon that does not carry a human operator and is capable of flight under remote control or autonomous programming." Although drones have only recently become the subject of significant public debate, they are not new, and their origins can be traced at least to World War I.
Throughout the twentieth century, however, they were used primarily for surveillance, most notably during the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s. The first armed drones were flown in Afghanistan in early October 2001. Since then, the US has increased its arsenal of Predator drones from 167 in 2002 to more than 7,000 today.
There are two types of lethal drones primarily now used by the US: the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper. The Predator MQ-1B, first flown in 1994,26 was designed "to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information combined with a kill capability." Equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, the Predator MQ-1B was the world's first-ever weaponized unmanned aircraft system.
As P.W. Singer writes in Wired for War, "[a]t twenty-seven feet in length, [the Predator] is just a bit smaller than a Cessna. . . . made of composite materials instead of metals, the Predator weighs just 1,130 pounds. Perhaps its best quality is that it can spend some twenty-four hours in the air, flying at heights of up to twenty-six thousand feet."
The MQ-9 Reaper "is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to prosecute time- sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets."
The technical precision of these weapons has been disputed, including by companies that developed software used in targeting.31 One factor that reduces targeting precision is 'latency,' the delay between movement on the ground and the arrival of the video image via satellite to the drone pilot.
As the New York Times reported in July 2012, "Last year senior operatives with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula told a Yemeni reporter that if they hear an American drone overhead, they move around as much as possible."
Even when they are precise, however, casualties and damage are not necessarily confined to the specific individual, vehicle, or structure targeted. The blast radius from a Hellfire missile can extend anywhere from 15-20 meters;33 shrapnel may also be projected significant distances from the blast.
DRONES AND TARGETED KILLING AS A RESPONSE TO 9/11
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2011 attacks, the Bush administration began a campaign of 'targeted killing' against suspected members of Al Qaeda and other armed groups.34 The CIA allegedly carried out its first targeted drone killing in February 2002 in Afghanistan, where a strike killed three men near a former mujahedeen base called Zhawar Kili.
Some reports suggest the CIA thought one of the three men might have been bin Laden in part due to his height. When questioned in the aftermath of the strike, however, authorities confirmed that it was not bin Laden and, instead, appeared not to know who they had killed. A Pentagon spokeswoman stated, "[w]e're convinced that it was an appropriate target," but added, "[w]e do not know yet exactly who it was."
Another spokesman later added that there were "no initial indications that these were innocent locals." Reports since have suggested that the three individuals were local civilians collecting scrap metal.
Six months later, on November 3, 2002, the US took the targeted killing program to Yemen. US officials, reportedly operating a drone from a base in Djibouti, hit and killed six men travelling in a vehicle in an under-populated area of Yemen. One of the men was Qaed Sinan Harithi, believed to have been one of the planners of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
In January 2003, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, concluded that the strike “constitute[d] a clear case of extrajudicial killing.
Nonetheless, the strike in Yemen set the precedent for what would later become a full-scale program of targeted killing by drone in Pakistan. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, a number of Taliban fighters fled across the border into Pakistan and in particular FATA, which borders Afghanistan. From 2002 to 2004, the US used Predator drones to monitor this area.
Then, in June 2004, the US launched a strike against Nek Muhammad, a Pakistani Taliban commander who two months prior had announced his support for Al Qaeda. Witnesses initially reported that the missile was fired from a drone circling overhead, but the Pakistani military denied any US involvement, instead taking credit for the operation itself. Today, this is widely believed to have been the first US drone strike in Pakistan.
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ESCALATION OF THE DRONE PROGRAM
When President Bush left office in January 2009, the US had carried out at least 45 drone strikes according to the New America Foundation, or 52 according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), inside Pakistan.48 Since then, President Obama has reportedly carried out more than five times that number: 292 strikes in just over three and a half years.
This dramatic escalation in the US use of drones to carry out targeted killings has brought with it escalating tensions between the US and Pakistan, as well as continued questions about the efficacy and accuracy of such strikes.
"PERSONALITY STRIKES" AND SO-CALLED "SIGNATURE STRIKES"
A key feature of the Obama administration's use of drones has been a reported expansion in the use of "signature" strikes. Between 2002 and 2007, the Bush administration reportedly focused targeted killings on "personality" strikes targeting named, allegedly high-value leaders of armed, non-state groups like Salim Sinan al Harethi and Nek Mohammad.
Under Obama, the program expanded to include far more "profile" or so-called "signature" strikes based on a "pattern of life" analysis. According to US authorities, these strikes target "groups of men who bear certain signatures, or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity, but whose identities aren't known." Just what those "defining characteristics" are has never been made public.
In 2012, the New York Times paraphrased a view shared by several officials that "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." The Times also reported that some in the Obama administration joke that when the CIA sees "three guys doing jumping jacks," they think it is a terrorist training camp.
WHO MAKES THE CALL?
On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration, in a letter to Congress, publicly acknowledged the existence of military actions in Yemen and Somalia against individuals alleged to be linked to Al Qaeda. However, the administration has not provided similar statements about CIA activities (including drone programs) in Pakistan and Yemen.
As a result, what little public information exists about government perspectives, programs, and policies has come largely through anonymous sources and leaks in major news outlets. In May 2012, three such stories -- one by the New York Times, one by the Associated Press, and one by Newsweek reporter and author Daniel Klaidman -- revealed the most information to date about how the decision to kill a particular target is made.
According to the Associated Press and the New York Times, the President acts as the final decision maker, at least with respect to the decision to carry out "personality strikes" targeting named individuals. According to the New York Times, early in his presidency, "the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a 'near certainty' that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths,
Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead." Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman noted that, "Obama followed the CIA operations closely"62 and that he would frequently pull aside CIA director Leon Panetta "and ask for details about particular strikes."
Both the CIA and the US Special Operations Command, the latter through its Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) -- have their own target lists. Those lists are drawn up through independent processes, but significant overlap often exists.
The administration claims to have a thorough vetting process by which names are chosen. It is unclear what, if any, process is in place for decisions regarding the so-called "signature strikes," which are particularly problematic and open to abuse and mistake.
These strikes target individuals or groups "who bear characteristics associated with terrorism but whose identities aren't known."
PAKISTAN'S DIVIDED ROLE
Pakistan-US relations are complex and complicated by continuing drone strikes. Pakistan initially appeared to support US strikes covertly. From 2004 through at least 2007, the Pakistani government claimed responsibility for attacks that had, in fact, been conducted by the US, thus allowing the US to deny any involvement.
In 2008, according to cables released by Wikileaks, Pakistan's Prime Minister reportedly told US Embassy officials, "I don't care if they [conduct strikes] as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it."
In 2009, both Pakistan's Prime Minister and its Foreign Minister publicly celebrated the drone strike that killed Baitullah Mehsud, the alleged leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP), an armed group that launches terrorist attacks within Pakistan.
As strikes have increased, however, so too has the Pakistani public's opposition to them. In 2011, rising opposition to the US within Pakistan was further exacerbated by three separate events: the public shooting of two men by CIA agent Raymond Davis in January, the May raid of Osama bin Laden's compound and his killing, and the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an errant NATO airstrike in November.
It is important to note that segments of the Pakistani population, including in FATA, support drone strikes that kill terrorists. This is primarily because of the significant toll that terrorists and armed non-state groups take on the civilian population.74 In the absence of other effective government action, some support military efforts to attack and kill terrorists.
However, it is clear that the majority of the population oppose current drone practices. A Pew Research Poll conducted in 2012 found only 17 per cent of Pakistanis favor the US conducting "drone strikes against leaders of extremist groups, even if they are conducted in conjunction with the Pakistani government."
Of those familiar with the drone campaign, the study noted that 94 per cent of Pakistanis believe the attacks kill too many innocent people and 74 per cent say they are not "necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organizations."
Further, particular strikes (such as those targeting first responders), as well as the constant presence of drones overhead, have caused significant hardships for many in FATA. Because the consequences of US drone practice for those living in targeted areas have been largely omitted from coverage in the US, this report focuses on these effects.
Opposition to drone strikes has accompanied increasingly negative perceptions of the US. Roughly three in four now consider the US an enemy, an increase from both 2010 and 2011.
David Kilcullen, former Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, and Andrew M. Exum of the Center for a New American Security have explained that "[p]ublic outrage at the strikes is hardly limited to the region in which they take place . . . . Rather, the strikes are now exciting visceral opposition across a broad spectrum of Pakistani opinion in Punjab and Sindh, the nation's two most populous provinces."
Pakistani officials have been very vocal, particularly in 2012, in their opposition to ongoing drone strikes in FATA. They have asserted that the strikes are unlawful, a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, and counterproductive.
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