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Ahmad Noorani | The News

ISLAMABAD: Top officials in the Ministry of Defence confirmed to The News on Tuesday that the figures of civilian casualities in drone strikes sent to parliament right after the return of the prime minister from his US trip were “wrong and fabricated”.

However, in response to questions on conflicting numbers of civilian casualities, Natrina Farhan, spokesperson of the ministry, said: “Ministry of Defence will come up with the actual situation in the next few days.”

Top officials in the Foreign Affairs Ministry seriously doubted the intention of secretary defence for providing it with completely different figures of civilian casualties in drone attacks in March this year compared to what was presented before parliament recently.

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Shuaib Almosawa | Foreign Policy

Arfag al-Marwani finished his last minute shopping for the Eid al Fitr holiday by midnight, just enough time to enjoy a few hours of rest before the holiday’s dawn Fajr prayers. A 28-year-old laborer, Arfag had recently returned from working in Saudi Arabia and planned on spending the time with his family. It was August 8.

Just before making his final holiday preparations, he received a troubling phone call. Before the holiday celebrations could begin, he would have to carry out one final task.

There had been some sort of car accident involving his brothers: 24-year-old Abdullah, 17-year-old Hassan and 16-year-old Hussein. They too were on their way to the family home after finishing some last minute Eid shopping. Arfag’s thoughts drifted to news reports of the seven U.S. drone strikes in the past 11 days — one of which already targeted al Qaeda suspects in his home province of Marib. Arfag hoped that his young brothers weren’t somehow caught in the drone crossfire.

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Mehreen Zahra-Malik | Reuters

The head of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Friday, several security sources told Reuters, the latest in a series of blows to the country’s most feared militant group.

Hakimullah Mehsud, who was believed to be in his mid-30s and was one of Pakistan’s most wanted men, has been reported dead several times before.

But late on Friday, several intelligence, army and militant sources across Pakistan confirmed he had been killed in the drone strike in the lawless North Waziristan region.

“We can confirm Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in the drone strike,” said one senior security official.

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Alyssa Figueroa | Alternet

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted today.…All [media] reported that three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day: Momina Bibi, a grandma, a midwife…not a militant but my mother.”

These are the words of Rafiq ur Rehman, whose 67-year-old mother was killed in Pakistan by U.S. drone in October 2012. Rehman told this story at a congressional briefing on Tuesday, accompanied by his two children, Nabila, 9, and Zubair, 13, who were injured by drones. Rehman’s other child Asma, 5, and his five nieces and nephews were also injured. The briefing, organized by Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), was the first time lawmakers heard from drone strike survivors and drone victims’ families.

“The string that holds the pearls together,” Rehman said. “That is what my mother was. She was the string that held our family together. Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

There is an estimate of 2,600 to 3,400 people killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, only 2 percent of whom were on the U.S. government’s high-value target list. Most of the rest go unnamed and unacknowledged by the U.S. government, though there are estimates of at least 400 to 900 confirmed civilian deaths and 200 deaths of children. The media reports that drones are constantly killing militants, mainly because President Obama redefined the term “militant” to mean every man of military age. Drone strikes have also been reported in Yemen and Somalia.

A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans, 65 percent, support the use of drones. Ninety-seven percent of Pakistanis oppose drone use, while 74 percent consider the U.S. an enemy of their country. These growing numbers discredit the claim that our wars overseas are making us safer.

Stopping drone strikes will take collective action. Here are a few ways you can fight back against drone use.

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AFP

Miranshah — A US drone strike targeting a militant compound Thursday killed three insurgents in a northwest Pakistan tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.
The attack took place near Miranshah, the main town in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district.
“A US drone fired two missiles on a militant compound, hitting a part of the house and also a vehicle parked there, killing three militants,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He said that fire engulfed the vehicle soon after the attack, while local people were trying to recover the dead bodies and injured trapped beneath the rubble of the compound.
Another official in the city of Peshawar confirmed the attack, saying the identities of the militants were immediately unclear.

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Alexander Abad-Santos | The Atlantic Wire

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey,” a 13-year-old Pakistani boy named Zubair told Congress on Tuesday. Zubair was 12 when he and his younger sister, Nabeela, were injured in a drone strike near North Waziristan last October. “When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear,” Zubair told Rep. Alan Grayson and others at the congressional briefing.

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Ryan Devereaux | The Guardian

Drawing on a pad of paper in a Washington DC hotel, Nabeela ur Rehman recalled the day her grandmother was killed. “I was running away,” the nine-year told the Guardian. “I was trying to wipe away the blood.”

“It was as if it was night all of the sudden.”

The date was 24 October 2012, the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holy day. Nabeela’s father, Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher living in the remote Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, was dropping off sweets at his sister’s home when it happened.

He had hoped to make the visit a family affair but his mother urged him to go alone. Rafiq did as she wished then stopped at the local mosque for evening prayers before taking the bus home. As the vehicle came to a halt at his stop, Rehman noticed something unsettling: members of his community were preparing to bury a body at a small graveyard nearby.

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