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.” 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. 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.
New site Living under drones for further reading.