BBC Urdu has published new research into the undeclared war in Pakistan. They report that since January 2009 nearly 2,500 people have been killed in Pakistan as a result of US drones and Islamic militant attacks. They attribute 746 deaths to US drone strikes (30%) and 1,713 deaths (70%) to Islamic militant attacks.
What will hit the headlines though is the fact that in response a Taleban spokesman, Muhammed Umer, has said that “In the short term, yes, you can say it [drone strikes] has caused us some difficulties because of the martyrdoms and realignment of our ranks.” The Guardian have already reported the story as ‘Taliban says US drone attacks ‘temporarily’ hindering insurgency’. What Muhammed Umer goes on to say – and probably won’t get so much coverage – is that the drone strikes are also bringing new volunteers and recruits.
A unnamed ‘senior US official’ is also quoted in the report as saying that since Obama has taken office, 650 militants and 20 non-combatants have been killed by drone strikes. Tactfully the BBC say
“Research by the BBC’s Urdu service puts the number of those killed considerably higher, and says there have been many cases where there has been no positive identification of those killed at all”.
While the CIA, as usual refused to comment on their drone strikes, the same ‘unnamed senior US official’ said that drones are “the most precise weapons system in the history of warfare.” No doubt as precise as his casualty figures.