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- Saturday, January 01, 2011 - From Print Edition


LAHORE: The American drones carried out a record number of 124 attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan in the 12 months of 2010, more than double the number of predator strikes conducted in the 12 months of 2009, killing 1184 people, compared with 2009’s death toll of 760 in 53 such attacks.


According to figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, on average, the US drone attacks targeting the al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in the tribal belt of Pakistan, killed 98 people every month, 23 people every week and three people every day in 2010. These attacks recorded an overall 134 percent increase in 2010 compared with the 2009’s figures, jumping from 53 strikes in 2009 to 124 attacks in 2010.


Similarly, an overall 56 percent increase was recorded in the number of people killed by the drones, compared with the 2009’s figures -going up from 760 deaths in 2009 to 1184 in 2010. The monthly increase in the drone-related killing ratio in 2010 (compared with the 2009) comes to 55 while the monthly increase in the ratio of drone strikes (compared with 2009) comes to an unprecedented 150 percent.


Similarly, while there was 53 percent weekly increase in 2010 in the number of people killed in US drones compared with 2009, an unprecedented 130 percent weekly increase was recorded in the number of attacks in 2010, compared with the 2009.


Most of the drone attacks were conducted on the basis of human intelligence, provided by both Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen, who spy for the US-led Allied Forces stationed in Afghanistan.


The figures show that on average, ten more persons were killed by the American drones every month and two more persons were perished in such strikes every week, compared with 2009’s figures. Similarly, 71 more drone attacks were carried out in Pakistan in 2010 compared with 2009’s figure of 53. And 424 more persons lost their lives in these attacks compared with the 2009’s total figure of 760.


As always, most of those killed by the US drones were innocent civilians. Ten groups remained prime targets of the American predator strikes in 2010, which included the fugitive leadership of al-Qaeda, the commanders of the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban, the commanders of the Islamic Jehad Group, Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Army of Great Britain, Brigade 313, Haqqani Militant Network, Lashkar-e-Islam and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.


The escalation of the US predator strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan can be gauged from the fact that these attacks have seen an unprecedented increase since January 2009, when Barack Obama took over the Presidency, replacing George Bush.


According to the month-wise break-up of the drone attacks and the subsequent human losses, 132 people were killed in 11 attacks in January 2010, 82 persons were killed in 10 hits conducted in February, 98 people were killed in 10 more attacks in March, 47 persons were perished in six such strikes in April, 84 people were killed in eight drone strikes in May, 69 persons were killed in seven such assaults in June and 66 more lost their lives in six attacks in July.


But the velocity of the deadly attacks intensified in September 2010 ever since the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began the air campaign in Pakistan. A record number of 21 drone attacks in September killed 145 people, followed by 16 such strikes in October, killing 136 persons. Another 124 lost their lives in 14 drone attacks in November and 138 more were perished in ten more such attacks in December 2010.


The favourite target of the American drone strikes in 2010 remains North Waziristan, which is generally considered as a haven for the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda terrorists, and a host of Pakistani and Central and South Asian terrorist groups. Of the 124 strikes carried out in 2010, the largest number of 104 hit their targets in North Waziristan, killing 987 people, 10 attacks in South Waziristan killed 101 people, six attacks in the Khyber Agency killed 82 persons and four such strikes in the Kurram Agency perished 14 more.


As per the region wise ratio, of the 1184 people killed by the US drones in 2010, 83 percent were killed in North Waziristan, 08 percent were killed in South Waziristan, 07 percent were killed in Khyber Agency while 01 percent were killed in Kurram Agency. Similarly, North Waziristan had to face 84 percent of the total 124 drone strikes in 2010, followed by 08 percent attacks suffered by the residents of South Waziristan, 06 percent in Khyber Agency and 03 percent in Kurram Agency.


But still, the number of the people killed in the drone attacks in 2010 was less than those killed in the incidents of suicide bombings across Pakistan. While the American drones carried out 124 attacks in 2010, killing 1184 people, the human bombs killed a record number of 1271 Pakistanis in 53 acts of suicide bombings across Pakistan.