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America’s “Invisible” Drone War in Pakistan

A recently released short film focuses on the physical, moral and political invisibility of the United States drone war in Pakistan.

“Unseen War” is made by “Exposing the Invisible”, an initiative of the international non-profit Tactical Technology Collective which uses information, communications and digital technologies to maximize the impact of their advocacy work through short films.

Their series explores new frontiers of investigation and shares stories of people working to expose hidden layers behind problems in their societies.From their website:

We speak to journalists, activists and experts inside and outside of Pakistan about the consequences of the strikes in the tribal FATA region, why they are possible, and how we can make the issue more visible using data and visualization tactics.

Apparently the US is at war in Pakistan against terror and has made hundreds of attacks on targets in Northwest Pakistan since 2004 with unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). They have refuses to officially acknowledge that more than 300 CIA drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and only describes them in off-the-record briefings. The previous Pakistani government openly condemned these attacks but Wiki-leaks exposed that they privately approved the strikes. According to an expose in Washington Post Pakistani military officials, even those who bitterly complained about drone strikes, had secretly been choosing some of the targets.

A leaked Pakistani report tells that the number of casualties are much higher than those provided by the US administration. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism the estimated casualties in the US drone attacks in Pakistan are:

Pakistan 2004–2013 CIA Drone Strikes

Total strikes: 381
Total killed: 2,537-3,646
Civilians killed: 416-951
Children killed: 168-200
Injured: 1,128-1,557

The reasons for high number of casualties have been contributed to shoddy intelligence gathering standards such as facilitating strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

Jeremy Scahill, journalist and author of ‘Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield’ explains how the definitions of “imminent threat” and “enemy combatants” are being redefined by US authorities to give legitimacy for drone attacks. For example all military-age males in an area of known terrorist activity are deemed as combatants, assumed to be up to no good and can be condemned to death by drone.

Two other movies on the US drone warfare in Pakistan – Wounds of Waziristan by Madiha Tahir and Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill – were also released last year.

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