Figures released by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism indicate that nearly 3,500 people have been killed by US assassination drones in Pakistan alone since 2004.
In September 2012, a report by the Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that assassination drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The report noted, “The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low - estimated at just two percent.”
The killing of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington and exacerbated anti-US sentiments in the Asian country.
Despite the widespread criticism of the US assassination drone program, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA has come out in support of the country’s non-UN sanctioned aerial strikes.
In his confirmation hearing in the Senate, John Brennan said the civilian casualties inflicted by the drone strikes have been “exceedingly rare.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Brenna, who is also top counterterrorism advisor to President Obama.
“We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat,” he added.
Washington uses its assassination drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, claiming that they target the terrorists. The attacks, however, have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.