U.S. increases attacks in Pakistan as flood relief efforts continue

Patrick Miner

In July, torrential monsoon rains fell over Pakistan, leading to devastating flooding across the country. According to the BBC, over 2,000 people have died and over a million homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Up to one-fifth of the country’s land was submerged under floodwater and six million people are at risk of starvation. The total economic cost of the disaster exceeds $40 billion. While the UN needs $460 million for relief efforts, only a portion of that sum has been raised.
The United States is among those countries currently supplying relief to Pakistan. But as American helicopters drop aid packages on ravaged floodplains, another American operation is under way. U.S. Predator drones – small, remotely-operated aerial vehicles – have continued to bombard tribal areas in Pakistan.
Drone operations in Pakistan began in 2004 under the Bush administration and have increased in frequency since early 2009 when President Obama took office. According to Pakistani authorities, U.S. drone strikes killed 709 people in 53 attacks in 2009. Of the 53 attacks, fewer than ten actually hit their marks, suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.
So far this year, 658 people have been killed by Predator drones in 76 attacks. The CIA, which has jurisdiction over these actions, has launched 25 strikes since the flooding began in Pakistan. More Pakistanis were killed by the U.S. in September than in any other month since the attacks began six years ago.
Pakistani intelligence indicates that none of the recent drone attacks have killed any senior Taliban or al-Qaeda leaders, as many of them have already left the country to avoid the violence. United States citizens, however, have been among the victims of the attacks. The CIA has not yet released the names of the Americans they have killed.
Since Obama’s inauguration, 1,367 people have been killed by the drones in Pakistan. While his continued support of these operations is disturbing, congress controls the military budget and each representative must be held accountable for this unwarranted aggression.
Fatima Bhutto, Pakistani writer and niece of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said in September that the victims of the attacks “are all nameless, faceless Pakistanis. The media will say they are largely civilians, but I wonder if they are not all civilians. They are unindicted. They are unconvicted. We know that at the height of the floods, America launched two drone attacks. We know that last week, within 24 hours, they launched three drone attacks. There were double drone attacks just days ago. President Obama has been enthusiastic in his use of employing Predator drone attacks, and President Zardari has been very pliable in allowing them to come and kill Pakistani citizens.”
As the U.S. government both attacks and sends aid to Pakistan, I hope that Americans send word to their representatives in government to end these acts of terrorism perpetrated against a country in crisis.