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Civilian casualties in AfPak

A report released by a US-based think tank says that wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan have claimed lives of at least 149,000 people since 2001 to 2014.

The Watson Institute’s  Costs of War Project says at least 162,000 were injured since the US-led international war on terror that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. The worst victims of the protracted wars, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are civilians. At least 26,270 civilians in Afghanistan and 21,500 civilians in Pakistan have been killed. In Afghanistan, IEDs and suicide bombings in public places have caused more civilians casualties whereas coalition troops’ aerial bombings have also been a cause of civilian casualties.

At times, the aerial bombings and nighttime raids caused extreme frustration in the relations of Kabul and Washington during the government of ex-President Hamid Karzai. Since the end of combat mission of foreign troops, nighttime raids and aerial bombings are causing no more frustration. Drone attacks also cause civilian casualties but to a minor extent. In Pakistan, terror attacks in public places, Pakistan’s military operations and aerial bombings have been causing civilian casualties besides drone attacks. Since the United States is supporting a sterner Pakistan’s military campaign against the militants, therefore, it closes it eyes over the collateral damages by Pakistan’s army and air force. Thousands of bombs have been dropped by Pakistan’s air force in the tribal belt, killing more civilians than militants. Islamabad has received over $1.2 billion in assistance to the military from the US.

Pakistan ranks among the top five recipients of the United States military aid. The government of Pakistan used to detest American drone strikes vehemently while it is dead silent on the atrocities of its own military. Last week, seven IDPs from North Waziristan were killed and over a dozen injured in a camp in Bannu but there is no apology by the military or the government and no investigation. In May 2009, American B-1B bombers rained down 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs in the village of Garani, in response to the attack of the Taliban. But those killed were all civilians. The US military adopted damage control mode and made numerous apologies to the Afghan government and the villagers. They also vowed they would modify their aerial support tactics. Each time they commit aerial bombing blunders, they tendered apologies and when these types of incidents occur with depressing regularity, once the furious ex-President Hamid Karzai threatened to switch sides if such incidents take place once again.

Why the vociferous Pakistani government that vehemently decried drone attacks is dead silent on the atrocious acts of its own army in the tribal belt? Will the military of Pakistan ever apologize to the tribesmen? When one loses his family members or at times the entire family, he has no other option but to take up arms against the state. Then Islamabad blames Afghanistan that it has been supporting terrorism against Pakistan. This is quite naïve and at the same time hypocrisy. Instead of blaming others for one’s own follies is not only shameful but it doesn’t hold any solution to the problems. in Afghanistan, the Taliban are responsible for the hike in civilian casualties as their IEDs are causing unbearable deaths. While in Pakistan its army is responsible for civilian casualties. There must be accountability for killings, compensation to the families who lost their near and dear ones in the military operations, and moral responsibility for collateral damages.

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