“But how do they get all these AK-47s out there?” I asked a cab driver last year, while he was telling me about the violence that’s kept his familial village and much of the rest of Pakistan’s hilly tribal northwest in the stone ages. “They build them,” he said nonchalantly.
A few years ago, VBS’s Suroosh Alvi was taken to the bazaar by a family friend. In October of 2009, hellbent on dying maybe and long after every other Western journalist was banned, he returned for a follow-up. What Suroosh found on his return visit was a smorgasboard of DIYkilling tech that’s helping to feed increasing tensions and violence between just about everyone — the Taliban, local tribes, the Pakistani army, the American army — and maintain a stubborn tradition in which toting a Kalishnikov is simply a sign of honor, like a fancy watch. A fancy watch that can blow your head off. (via urbankiwi)
According to NAF’s research, there have been 215 drone attacks since 2004 in the bad-guy tromping grounds of northwest Pakistan, killing between 1,372 and 2,125 people. (The wide variation in estimates shows how difficult it is to track these stats, even with press and government reports.) Of those, 1061 to 1584 were called militants “in reliable press accounts.” For those of you keeping score at home, that means that between 23 and 25 percent of all deaths from drone strikes are noncombatants. But here’s the worse news:
Of all those semi-confirmed deaths since 2004, only 36 have been “militant leaders,” like Al Qaeda’s third in command. (It goes without saying that we haven’t hit the terrorist group’s two really big fish, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahri.) That means that only about 2 percent of NATO’s drone kills were strategically important enemy personnel. If Meat Loaf were a US combatant commander in South Asia, he’d have to cut a new track: ”Two Out of 100 Ain’t Bad.”
By Madiha R. Tahir Date Published: December 1, 2010
Madiha R. Tahir is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan. Her work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National, and The Columbia Journalism Review, as well as on “Democracy Now!,” PRI’s “The World” and other venues. She is also co-editor of a forthcoming volume, Dispatches from Pakistan.