After US Resumes Aid, Pakistan Starts Downplaying Drone Strikes

Hundreds of Civilian Deaths Vanish From Latest Estimates

It’s funny how much influence $1.6 billion can buy.

On October 18, the Pakistani government delivered testimony to the UN rapporteur on human rights confirming at least 400 civilians slain in US drone strikes, along with over 200 other “probable non-combatants” and hundreds more simply unidentified.

The next day, the Obama Administration released $1.6 billion in aid to the Pakistani government, and now Pakistan’s Defense Ministry has issued a new public report on the drones in total contradiction on their own government’s findings, putting the overall death toll at 67, and declaring everyone else an “Islamist militant.”

Pakistan’s defense ministry and spy agencies have often downplayed civilian death tolls in US operations, and not-coincidentally those two are the largest recipients by far of US cash. The timing of the defense ministry’s latest report, and the absurdity of its conclusions, is a particularly stark example, however.

The UN is already demanding “clarification” related to the new statement, but since Pakistan’s military seems to be counting everyone who isn’t an infant or an elderly woman as a “Islamist militant” it doesn’t seem like clarity is part of the equation.

Both estimates, and the Obama Administration’s own “secret” estimate are all incomplete, since the vast, vast majority of drone strike victims are never identified. Of over 2,200 people killed since 2008, only a few dozen were ever conclusively identified as “terrorists,” and the rest will live in the annals of history as “suspects,” whose guilt is presumed by virtue of their getting hit with a missile.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of