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U.S. drone strike in Pakistan renews calls for transparency

PHOTO: en.wikipedia.org

PHOTO: en.wikipedia.org

For the first time, a United States (U.S.) drone struck Pakistan outside its lawless border area with Afghanistan, killing the leader of the Afghan Taliban in the country’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.

“It would have been better if Pakistan had targeted him inside its own territory,” Pakistani government employee, Umair Khan, told VOA. “It’s against the law for the U.S. to target him in our country.”

Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen – the United States has not hesitated to target terrorist targets when and where it deems fit.

In Pakistan alone, the U.S. has carried out 391 air strikes since 2008, according to The Long War Journal. In Yemen, U.S. strikes targeting al-Qaida commanders total 145 since 2002.

The figures are based on press reports.

Human rights groups have long called for hard numbers when it comes to counter-terrorism strikes that until recently the administration refused to even confirm.

“Saying ‘just trust us, we have high standards, we are doing the best we can’ really isn’t enough and that they need to be disclosing more,” said Rita Siemion of Human Rights First.

The Obama administration has promised as much – with a soon-to-be-released report outlining the number of combatants and civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2009, outside of areas of active hostilities, like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

“For a decent portion of this administration and the previous one, we wouldn’t even acknowledge publicly that these things were taking place,” White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters in March. “The fact that we’re now in a position on a regular, routinised basis to publish the results and to quantify that totals about the impact of these operations I do think represents substantial progress in the direction of transparency.”

What the administration will release remains to be seen, rights groups say lump sum totals of civilians and combatants killed in the last seven years will not do a great deal to increase transparency.

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