Drones 'terrorising' Pakistani civilians
26 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The US campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt is terrorising civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentiment, researchers said on Tuesday.
The attacks have killed thousands of people since they began in June 2004, according to the report by experts from Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law.
Aside from casualties, the "Living Under Drones" report said, the missile strikes are affecting daily life in the tribal areas, making people unwilling to gather in groups and even stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted.
After attacks, rescuers are unwilling to help the wounded for fear of being hit by follow-up missiles, said the report commissioned by UK-based charity Reprieve, which campaigns against drone strikes.
"Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning," the report said.
"Their presence terrorises 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."
The report urged Washington to rethink its drone strategy, arguing it was counterproductive and undermined international law.
Based on media reports and interviews with residents of North Waziristan, one of the areas most heavily targeted by drones, the research said the US conception of the campaign as a "surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer" was false.
Drone strikes allow the United States to carry out "targeted killings" of people it believes are militants from afar, without endangering American lives, but the campaign has become a festering sore in US-Pakistan relations. Islamabad says the strikes are counterproductive and a violation of its sovereignty.