Category Archives: Pakistan

Endless War: As U.S. Strikes Tikrit and Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

‘As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found “the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. … And this is only a conservative estimate.” The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.’ (Democracy Now!)

US won’t be able to control terrorism, because it’s unwilling to alter its imperial policies

Waqas Mirza writes for Jacobin:

US-backed rebels in Afghanistan, October 1987.‘[…] The problem is not that the Obama administration lacks the information to formulate an effective counter-extremism strategy that doesn’t scapegoat Muslims. The problem instead is that the most effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to retreat from empire.

It is no surprise that imperial wars and longstanding alliances with authoritarian states responsible for funding right-wing Islamist movements do not reduce the threat of terrorism. This holds true not just for “homegrown” terrorism but also for terrorist groups abroad. Unwilling to abandon policies that continually produce recruits for militant Islamism, the US falls back on blaming an ideology and the community which supposedly harbors it. Hence the focus on Muslims and the battle for “hearts and minds.”’.’


Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama’s inauguration six years ago

Jack Serle reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

A ground creman walks in front of a US Air Force Reaper as it sits on the tarmac in the desert lanscape of an air base in AfghanistanAt least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq) since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago, the Bureau’s latest monthly report reveals.

Of the total killed since Obama took his oath of office on January 20 2009, at least 314 have been civilians, while the number of confirmed strikes under his administration now stands at 456.

Research by the Bureau also shows there have now been nearly nine times more strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than there were under his predecessor, George W Bush.

And the covert Obama strikes, the first of which hit Pakistan just three days after his inauguration, have killed almost six times more people and twice as many civilians than those ordered in the Bush years, the data shows.’


Pakistani cartoonists tread fine line in land of blasphemy laws

Guillaume Lavallee reports for AFP:

In the face of Pakistan’s prolific use of blasphemy laws and a culture of political violence, cartoonists must tread a thin line. But they do find ways to poke fun at the powerful — including religious extremists.

The conservative nation of 200 million people is consistently ranked one the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with reporters often caught between powerful spy agencies and Islamist militants.

Without subscribing to all the ideas of Charlie Hebdo’s satirists killed this week for their depictions of Prophet Mohammed, the country’s caricaturists have sustained a proud, decades long tradition of pushing the envelope of free speech.’


Obama Has Killed More People With Drones Than Died On 9/11

Washington’s Blog writes:

‘Law school teacher Marjorie Cohn – president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes:

Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

She may be right …

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed – just in Pakistan and Yemen alone – between 2004 and 2014.

While it’s hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years.  Given thatnumerous people are often killed by  each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country.

And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones … long before ISIS even appeared on the scene.    So – altogether – the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand.

In contrast,  under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.’


Pakistan government says it suffered $80bn loss and 50,000 lives in ‘war on terror’

Tanveer Ahmed reports for the Daily Times:

‘Pakistan suffered a colossal loss of almost $80 billion as well as 50,000 precious lives of civilians and law enforcement agencies during the decade long war against terrorism, government told National Assembly here on Friday.

In a written reply Interior Ministry informed the house that Pakistan has been victim of terrorism for the last ten years. The Parliamentary Secretary for Interior, Maryam Aurangzeb said extremist groups have been active throughout the country with their own ideology and motives. Maryam Aurangzeb said several policy steps have been taken for controlling and improving law and order situation in the country. She said the government has prepared a new policy for strengthening internal security and to improve law and order.’


Global terror attack deaths rose sharply in 2013, says report

Helier Cheung reports for BBC News:

GTI2014‘The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

The report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says that nearly 18,000 people died from terrorist attacks in 2013.

“Not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well,” it notes.’


On Media Outlets That Continue to Describe Unknown Drone Victims As “Militants”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

It has been more than two years since The New York Times revealed that “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” of his drone strikes which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants…unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” The paper noted that “this counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths,” and even quoted CIA officials as deeply “troubled” by this decision: “One called it ‘guilt by association’ that has led to ‘deceptive’ estimates of civilian casualties. ‘It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants. They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.’”

But what bothered even some intelligence officials at the agency carrying out the strikes seemed of no concern whatsoever to most major media outlets. As I documented days after the Times article, most large western media outlets continued to describe completely unknown victims of U.S. drone attacks as “militants”—even though they (a) had no idea who those victims were or what they had done and (b) were well-aware by that point that the term had been “re-defined” by the Obama administration into Alice in Wonderland-level nonsense.’


Is Longtime U.S. Diplomat Robin Raphel A Spy?

Over half of US drone strike victims may be civilians: Interview with Marjorie Cohn

Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

Tom Hussain reports for McClatchy:

0711162-F-9126Z-793‘A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

The drone strikes – nine in all, launched daily with a day off on Friday – targeted Taliban fighters as they retreated from the country’s advancing military, which has launched an offensive in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistani authorities have billed the campaign as the decisive battle of a seven-year war against Pakistan Taliban insurgents.’


Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

yousafzai‘On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls’ education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.  Yousafzai’s work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism.

Last year, Yousafzai’s White House meeting with Barack Obama received wide media coverage.  But as I pointed out  back then (FAIR Blog, 10/15/13), part of Yousafzai’s message didn’t make it into most media accounts: She told Obama that drone strikes in her country were fueling more terrorism.’


Malala Yousafzai a Polarizing Figure in Her Homeland

Mustafa Hameed reports for ABC News:

‘While most in the country, including leading politicians and public figures, have reacted with pride at her award and have supported her over the years for her activism, a vocal segment of Pakistan’s population has not been so pleased with her global recognition.

Some portions of Pakistani society, leaning on ultra-conservative ideologies and conspiracy theories, hold onto the belief that Malala’s assassination attempt was sensationalized, or even faked, in order to discredit the country and its right-wingers. For them, this victory has done little to change their views.’


Spasm of Violence in Kashmir Worst in Years

Anjum Naveed and Aijaz Hussain report for The Associated Press:

‘[…] The clashes — which both India and Pakistan blame the other for starting — come even though both governments say they want to improve ties and even resolve the conflict. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistan’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, to attend his inauguration in May, saying he wanted to engage the archrival more assertively.

But relations remain fragile, even hostile. India in August abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan after its ambassador met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The mostly Muslim region, divided into zones controlled by India and Pakistan, and even a chunk by China, has seen fighting off and on for decades. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the mountainous territory.

Modi, a strident Hindu nationalist, seems intent on showing he represents a new, more forceful India.’


Drones, the Media and Malala’s Message

Editor’s Note: In light of Malala Yousafzai sharing the Nobel Peace Prize this year, it’s worth reminding ourselves of her visit to the White House last year. Particularly her much ignored words to President Obama about his administration’s use of drone strikes and their links to fuelling the very terrorism that they claim to be fighting.

Peter Hart wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting in October 2013:

Malala-Yousafzai_2700395b‘Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai’s visit to the United States was widely covered in the media, including interviews with ABC‘s Diane Sawyer (10/11/13), CNN’s Christiane Amanpour (10/14/13) and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show (10/8/13). She was selected as ABC‘s “Person of the Week” on October 11, and was considered a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And for good reason; just one year ago, Malala was attacked by the Taliban for her outspoken advocacy on behalf of educational equality, surviving a an attack where she was shot in the head.

But one part of her message didn’t seem to penetrate the corporate media.

During her October 11 visit to the White House, Yousafzai told Barack Obama that his administration’s drone strikes were fueling terrorism.’


US Drone Strikes in Pakistan Kill 26 Over Five Days

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The Obama Administration seems to be precipitously escalating the drone war against Pakistan’s tribal areas this week, and today launched yet another strike, killing three more unidentified people in North Waziristan.

This makes six different strikes across Waziristan in the past five days, killing 26 people overall. One was reportedly a “Uzbek commander,” but none had yet been publicly named by either US or Pakistani officials.

Pakistani intelligence officials have labeled every single person slain in the strikes as a “suspect,” but have offered no evidence backing up those claims.’


Pakistan: Imran Khan vows to continue protests until PM resigns

AFP reports:

Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan: Imran Khan ’plotted with army to oust Nawaz Sharif’, colleague claims‘Opposition politician Imran Khan [last] Sunday vowed to continue his protest against Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until the leader resigns over allegations of election rigging.

Khan, along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, has been staging a sit-in in capital Islamabad since August 15.

Last week he took his protest to Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and on Sunday he addressed thousands of people in his home town and Pakistan’s second largest city — Lahore, which is also the home town of Sharif.

“The Pakistan nation has woken up against injustice and tyranny and I will continue this protest in other cities till Nawaz Sharif resigns,” Khan said.’


Related news from recent months:

Pakistan is eyeing sea-based and short-range nuclear weapons, analysts say

Tim Craig and Karen DeYoung report for The Washington Post:

‘In one of the world’s most volatile ­regions, Pakistan is advancing toward a sea-based missile capability and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads, according to Pakistani and Western analysts.

The development of nuclear missiles that could be fired from a ship or submarine would give Pakistan “second-strike” capability if a catastrophic nuclear exchange destroyed all land-based weapons. But the acceleration of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs is renewing international concern about the vulnerability of those weapons in a country that is home to more than two dozen Islamist extremist groups.’


Polio: Pakistan polio outbreak hits record high

BBC News reports:

A Pakistani child receives a polio vaccination drops from a health worker in Rawalpindi - 8 April 2014‘Pakistan has recorded its highest number of polio cases for 15 years, with health officials blaming the rise on attacks on immunisation teams. The number of new cases in 2014 so far is 202, exceeding the 199 cases in 2001 but short of the 558 cases in 1999.

Most of the infections are in the north-western tribal region where militants have targeted health teams. Militants there accuse doctors of being spies and say the vaccinations are part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

Suspicions over the programmes worsened after the US was accused of using a fake vaccination programme during its tracking of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.’


Pakistani Taliban Clarifies Statement Backing ISIS, Insists They’re Only Loyal to Mullah Omar

Tahir Khan reports for The Express Tribune:

‘Pakistani Taliban said on Sunday that they have declared allegiance only to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Afghan Taliban supremo, rejecting the media reports that the group has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.

“We are loyal to Ameer-ul-Momineen (Mullah Omar) and question does not arise to withdraw from his allegiance,” Shahidullah Shahid, spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said.

Clarifying his earlier reported comments about allegiance to the Islamic State, Shahid said the TTP had only commended the group.

“We had only praised the Islamic State and advised them to set aside differences and show unity,” the TTP spokesperson told The Express Tribune in a late Sunday email.’


Related news from recent months:

John Oliver On Drones

American drones ‘killing 49 people for every known terrorist in Pakistan’

Leon Watson reported in 2012 for The Daily Mail:

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan's tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years‘Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians, a new report claimed today. The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-a-day’.

And the authors lay much of the blame on the use of the ‘double-tap’ strike where a drone fires one missile – and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.

The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that people often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack. Investigators also discovered that communities living in fear of the drones were suffering severe stress and related illnesses. Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-strike.’


Al-Qaeda India branch’s first attack ends in dismal failure as jihadists ‘raid wrong ship’

Dean Nelson reports for The Telegraph:

 Pakistani sailors stand on the Tipu Sultan warship during the multinational naval exercise 'AMAN 07' (Peace) in the Arabian Sea off Karachi, 08 March 2007.‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi’s sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.’


India says Pakistan border clashes ‘extremely serious and provocative’

Reuters reports:

‘Clashes along India’s border with Pakistan are “extremely serious and provocative” and not conducive to improving relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

The comments came nearly two weeks after New Delhi called off top level diplomatic talks, protesting against Pakistan’s meetings with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

Exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks, claiming lives of several people, including soldiers.’


India’s prime minister accuses Pakistan of waging a “proxy war of terrorism”

The Associated Press reports:

‘India’s prime minister on Tuesday accused Pakistan of waging a proxy, terrorist war because it was too weak to fight a conventional one, a day after India accused its traditional rival of violating cease-fire agreements in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to provide Indian troops with more weapons, saying they were suffering more casualties from “terrorism than from war.”

“Pakistan has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism,” Modi said in an address to Indian army soldiers and officers in the city of Leh. He also announced that a national war memorial would be installed in the region. The pugnacious comments appeared to mark a reversal from friendlier tones struck in the days after Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party won Indian elections in a landslide in May. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among regional leaders who attended Modi’s inauguration.’


The CIA Caused A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan

‘When the White House went public with its catching-bin-Laden story, they told every media outlet just about every detail of the raid possible. They even allowed a Hollywood blockbuster to be made about the event. There was so much leakage of information that Dianne Feinstein called for a criminal investigation. Among the leaks was the information that the CIA had recruited doctors to collect DNA samples to help find bin Laden by going door to door to vaccinate people. The Taliban learned of this and started banning vaccines. Now, there is a huge resurgence of polio in Pakistan. The Resident discusses.’ (The Resident)

Pakistan PM Faces Murder Charges Over June Crackdown

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Pakistani protesters continue to mass around the capital city of their “long march,” with PTI leader Imran Khan at the head, promising Sunday will be a “decisive day” in the history of Pakistan.

Saturday was already an historic day in its own right, after the Lahore courts ordered murder charges to be brought against sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjabi Province leader Shahbaz Sharif.

The charges are related to the order of a deadly crackdown against supporters of preacher Muhammad Tahrir-ul Qadri in June. Qadri, an anti-Taliban preacher, also made several anti-corruption speeches critical of the Sharifs and their associates, and has been involved with the long march.’


Report: Nearly half of identified drone strike victims in Pakistan are civilians

Shayan Naveed reports for The Express Tribune:

‘An investigative project shows that 323 out of a little over 700 identified victims of US drones in Pakistan are reported to be civilians, including 99 children.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead project’ – which was launched last year — has now recorded the names of more than 700 of the 2, 342 people reportedly killed by CIA drones in Pakistan.

According to the Bureau’s website, it uses open source materials to monitor and record all drone attacks in covert war situations, including Pakistan.’


July the bloodiest month of drone strikes in two years in Pakistan

Victoria Parsons, Jack Serle and Alice K Ross reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

‘At least 32 people died in three CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, making this the bloodiest month since July 2012. The strikes all reportedly occurred in and around Datta Khel in North Waziristan.

The high death toll from just three attacks dramatically increased the casualty rate – the average number of people killed in each strike on average. This month the casualty rate was 10.7 people per strike. That is more than double the rate for June (4.6) and the highest since April 2011, when 24 people died in two attacks.’


Chase Madar: U.S. drone attacks undermine national security

Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, writes for Al Jazeera:

‘Drone blowback is real. Over the past five years, terrorists have attempted serious attacks on American soil that were motivated in part by U.S. drone strikes abroad. We know this because the apprehended terrorists have been loud and clear about their motives. As Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad, whose car bomb failed to explode in Times Square in May 2010, said at his arraignment:

Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands … we will be attacking U.S. The drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children … They kill women, children — they kill everybody.

A foiled plot to blow up the New York subway, led by Afghan-born, Queens-raised Najibullah Zazi, also speaks to the growing anger over drone warfare. According to courtroom testimony from the would-be perpetrators, they conceived their effort as revenge for the drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan, where U.S. strikes have killed some 2,800 people. Just how many of those killed were Al-Qaeda fighters and how many civilians is not precisely known. But the connection between drones abroad and danger at home is not hypothetical: It’s a demonstrable fact. And yet our national security experts tend to treat these attempted terrorist attacks as if they were of no relevance to Washington’s increasing use of lethal unmanned aircraft.’