Drone Strikes in Pakistan since May 2013

M. Suleman Shahid

In 2013, drone strikes in Pakistan decreased in comparison to last three years. According to The Long War Journal, in 2007 CIA carried out five attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan. These attacks have gradually increased. The year 2010 saw drone strikes at increasing to reach their peak, reaching a new high count at the level of 117. In 2013, 28 drone strikes were carried out in Pakistan.[1] Surprisingly, this year was the first time the CIA expanded its target area of drone strikes to include locations outside the tribal areas, and attacked a target in the Hangu district, an administrative area of KPK province and an outskirt area of North Waziristan.

Chart 1

Drone Attacks during this period

On May 11th, 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PMLN) emerged as the victorious majority party in national elections and was able to form an independent government. During the election campaign, Nawaz Sharif pledged that if the public brought his party to power, he would make the drone attacks inside Pakistan come to an end. Sharif took office on 5th June 2013, and ironically just before his oath taking ceremony on 27th May 2013, the US carried out a drone attack in North Waziristan in which a top commander of the TTP, Wali ur Rehman, was killed. The message conveyed to the Nawaz government by the Americans was that rhetoric aside, the new government would have no new powers to be able to halt drone strikes in Pakistan. Since then, the CIA carried out 14 drone strikes up till December 25th 2013. In these strikes, prominent Taliban leaders and Al-Qaeda members have been killed including Hakeem Ullah Mehsood – the former Chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).


People Killed in Drone Strikes

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, approximately 67 to 101 (average 86) civilians and militants have been killed in drone strikes since the Nawaz government. Data from the New American Foundation however claims the numbers of causalities to range from 70 to 92 (average 81).

Numbers of Militants

Drone Strikes Area wise

ChartSince 2004, the CIA has carried out more drone attacks in North Waziristan than in any other tribal areas of Pakistan. Under the Nawaz government, CIA has conducted 15 drone strikes in Pakistan, out of which 14 were carried out in North Waziristan. Simultaneously this has been the first time the CIA has extended its drone target area all the way to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.


Drone Attacks on Different Factions:

drone dataSince the advent of the Nawaz Government, the target factions of CIA drone attacks have been mostly unclear. Out of the fifteen drone attacks in 2013 eight were carried on unclear groups, four on TTP, three on the Haqqani group, one on Al-Qaeda and one attack targeted to both the Haqqani group and Al-Qaeda members.

Terrorists killed in Drone Attacks

  1. On May 29th 2013, Wali-ur-Rehman, second in command of the TTP was killed along with three companions as a result of a drone strike in North Waziristan.
  2. Mullah Sangeen Zadran, senior commander of the Haqani Network was killed in a drone attack.
  3. In November 2013, TTP Chief Hakeem Ullah Mehsood was killed, along with three to six bodyguards in Miranshah in a CIA drone strike.
  4. A senior commander of the Haqani group, Molvi Ahmad Jan has was killed along with his companions in the Hangu district of KPK.
  5. Some Al-Qaeda elements have also been killed, including Muhammad Ilyas Kuwaiti, Al-Qaeda commander, Muhammed Sajid Yamani, Sheikh Yaseen As Sumali, Sheikh Abu Majid Al-Iraq and Sheikh Abu Waqas, Abu Ubaidullah Abdullah Al-Adam, Intelligence chief of Al-Qaedam, Abu Saif Al Jaziri,  Zubair Al-Muzi, Abu Bilal Khurasani and Abu Dujana Khurasani.

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