According to a research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, only 12 percent of the 2,370 drone attack victims in Pakistan have been identified as militants and just 4 percent were al-Qaeda members who the U.S.-led initiative targeted in the first place.
"The only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level, after a great deal of vetting," claimed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013.
The numbers now put that claim in serious doubt and casts a shadow on all of the other claims made by the United States about the war on terror.
The number also raises concerns of accountability and of the other 84 percent of the drone victims.
When questioned about this, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that strikes were only carried out when there was “near-certainty” that no civilians would be killed.
“The death of innocent civilians is something that the U.S. government seeks to avoid if at all possible. In those rare instances in which it appears non-combatants may have been killed or injured, after-action reviews have been conducted to determine why, and to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimize such risk to non-combatants in the future,” said Hayden.
Worth Pondering: Is America Really Winning The War Against Al Qaeda?
Sources other than the Bureau of Investigation, including the Pakistan Body Count, quote the number of drone victims as much higher.
Perhaps the Pakistani army’s recent military operation against terrorists on its soil would have better results.
Pakistan recently called for evolving international norms to govern the use of armed drones and other new weapon systems strictly according to the U.N. Charter, international human rights and humanitarian law.
But it is highly unlikely much will be done on it soon enough.
There have been numerous victims of "collateral damage" in the war of terror. This number of innocent deaths, however, should fall far beyond the realm of collateral damage.