This has been a difficult month for conspiracy theorists. First the visa conspiracy was completely debunked when the Embassy in Washington opened the books and showed the data which revealed that the number of visas issued to American officials has been relatively unchanged for decades. Now, the conspiracy theorists other favourite story, drone attacks, is also put to rest – and by none other than our own military.
The General Officer Commanding 7-Division, a two-star major-general, has said on record, speaking at a briefing in Mirali in North Waziristan, that “many of those killed in drone strikes are hardcore elements” and that “a sizeable number” were “foreigners”. He added that “there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists”. According to the officer, between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists killed. Of those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners. Under US President Barack Obama, 2010 was the deadliest year, with the attacks leaving more than 423 terrorists dead.
This evidence presented by our own military exposes the error in the constant stream of articles claiming that drone strikes are killing mostly civilians. This claim has been presented time and again without supporting evidence, despite open and transparent research that concluded that actually those killed in drone attacks were mostly terrorist militants. The evidence provided by the general also puts to rest the more recent conspiracy theories that have grown out of the Raymond Davis case which claim that the CIA is using drone strikes to destabilize Pakistan.
It was also recognized by the military that the foreign element which has been responsible for destabilizing attacks has not been American agents as suggested by those who promote the visa conspiracy but Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.
The briefing by Maj. Gen. Mehmood Ghayur will not put to rest the entire debate and discussion about drone attacks, nor should it. Hopefully, though, the discussion in media will shift to issues based in fact and not the false inventions and conspiracy theories of propagandists and political operatives.
CORRECTION: The quote above is from an editorial in Express Tribune, not the report in Dawn which is linked above. We apologize for the oversight and any confusion.