Congressman calls for rethink on drone strikes
KABUL (PAN): In order to minimise collateral damage, an American congressman has called for the Obama administration to rethink its strategy on drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal badlands near the Afghanistan border.
Keith Ellison, the only Muslim member of Congress, wrote in an article in the Washington Post: “As the frequency of drone strikes spikes again, some questions must be asked: How many of those targeted were terrorists?
He asked if any children harmed and what is the standard of evidence to carry out these attacks was. “The United States has to provide answers and Congress has a critical role to play,” the Democrat from Minnesota said.
Last week, the unmanned CIA-operated aerial vehicles, or drones, allegedly killed eight people in a rural tribal area, bringing the estimated death toll from such strikes this year to 35.
“The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far surpassed our policy,” he wrote, accusing the US administration of exercising unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad.
The drone raids had been effective in eliminating 22 of Al Qaeda’s top 30 leaders, the lawmaker acknowledged, but he hastened to ask policymakers not to ignore the costs of the strikes in terms of civilian casualties.
According to a recent study by US-based human rights experts, the number of civilians killed in drone attacks is much higher than the 700 reported by the US government since 2004, including almost 200 children. “This is unacceptable,” he concluded.
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