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Living Under Drones

Living Under Drones

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Published by RepentChristian

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Published by: RepentChristian on Apr 19, 2013
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09/15/2014

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Much of the public debate about drone strikes in Pakistan has focused narrowly on
whether strikes are ‘doing their job’—i.e., whether the majority of those killed are
“militants.”276 That framing, however, fails to take account of the people on the ground
who live with the daily presence of lethal drones in their skies and with the constant
threat of drone strikes in their communities. Numerous other reports have highlighted
the disastrous impacts of Taliban and other armed actor operations in Pakistan.277
Those impacts must also factor into the formulation of governance and military policy in
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This report, however, aims to draw
attention to a critical gap in understanding, specifically about life under drones and the
socio-economic impacts of drone strikes on civilians in North Waziristan. Available
evidence suggests that these impacts are significant, and challenges the prevailing US
government and media narrative that portrays drones as pinpoint precision weapons
with limited collateral impact. It is crucial that broader civilian impacts and the voices of
those affected be given due weight in US debates about drones.

The most direct impacts of strikes, in addition to injuries and killings, include property
damage, and often severe economic hardship and emotional trauma for injured victims
and surviving family members. Importantly, those interviewed for this report also
described how the presence of drones and capacity of the US to strike anywhere at any
time led to constant and severe fear, anxiety, and stress, especially when taken together
with the inability of those on the ground to ensure their own safety. Further, those
interviewed stated that the fear of strikes undermines people’s sense of safety to such an
extent that it has at times affected their willingness to engage in a wide variety of
activities, including social gatherings, educational and economic opportunities, funerals,
and that fear has also undermined general community trust. In addition, the US practice
of striking one area multiple times, and its record of killing first responders, makes both
community members and humanitarian workers afraid to assist injured victims.

276 See Numbers, infra Chapter 2: Numbers.

277 Id.

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