Drone Attacks in Pakistan – A Quantitative Analysis.

Drone Attacks, a Quantitative Analysis

A series of drone attacks started in 2005. The series was initially planned to target the terrorists hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan but what drone attacks did more than killing terrorists have consequences we would be facing for decades. It has killed our self-confidence and destroyed our esteem as a sovereign nation.

Let’s analyze the drone attacks and see what wrong has them done to Pakistan.

The first ever drone attack on the sovereign land of Pakistan happened back in 2004 in the Wana area of South Waziristan. The attack killed 6 people, out of which 2 were civilians and 2 were children. The series started then.

Let’s look into data and find which area’s had the highest number of drone attacks.


Area count
North Waziristan 303
South Waziristan 95
Kurram Agency 8
Khyber Agency 6
Bajaur Agency 4
Bannu Frontier Region 3
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province 1
Orakzai Agency 2



  • Out of total 422 attacks on the surface of Pakistan, 72% of them targeted North Waziristan.


Let’s check on the total number of people killed in comparison to civilians.


  • We have a startling finding
  • Out of 3,994 total killed, there are 965 civilians which means about 24% of causalities in drone attacks are civilians.
  • North Waziristan had the highest number of civilian causalities.
  • Bannu Frontier Region has the lowest.


How many Children are killed?

It is equally surprising that a huge number of children were also killed in drone attacks.


  • It is reported that a total of 207 children were victim of drone attacks.
  • The highest number of children causalities happened in 2006 when 76 children fell to drone attack
  • Out of total Causalities, 5% were children.

Let’s see which American administration killed highest civilians and children. First we will check which American President held highest number of drone strikes.


  • Barack Obama takes the lead with 371 strikes while George Bush is responsible for 51 only.


  • Surprisingly, the highest number of children causalities happened in George Bush Era. The total count is 129.


  • From 2005-2008, 56% of causalities were civilians.
  • In the year 2006, 95% of casualties were civilians.
  • In the year 2007, 82% of casualties were civilians.


Top 5 locations for Drone Attacks

Location count
Datta Khel 37
Shawal 25
Mir Ali 15
Miram Shah 13
Danda Darpakhel 11
  • Historically it is seen that Friday of any month has the highest number of attacks followed by Wednesday.

Musharraf Vs Zardari Vs Nawaz Sharif Government


  • In the regime of Musharraf, a total number of 16 drone attacks happened.
  • While Asif Ali Zadari was president, an enormous number of 356 drone attacks happened
  • So far in the government of Nawaz Sharif, a total of 54 drone attacks happened.


Total Number of attacks by Year


  • The trend line represents that the attacks drastically increased in 2008
  • They were highest in 2010
  • The number started to drop later with lowest of 13 in last five years.

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There might be a purpose which is served by a drone strike. There might be potential threats that are eliminated by a few drone strikes, but the damage it is causing socially and psychologically are far more dangerous than the purpose it serves. The epidemic of “Collateral Damage” will only cause retaliation, the uprising against the murderers who are sitting thousands of miles away playing the game of death with the joystick. The pukhtoons have history of vengeance; they revenge their enemies, in any way, through any way. So if Zubair, 13 years old, the brother of Nabila Rehman, pick up arms against the America, Will then it be justified? A drone might kill one potential threat but leaves many definite threats behind.

The United States has used drones since 2004 but the program escalated after President Obama’s Inauguration. In the President Obama regime, highest number of 371 drone attacks happened. The President who was eager to end up the war overlooked an important aspect of drone warfare which has the highest number of civilian casualties, hence causing havoc.


Usman is an aspiring data scientist who likes to tweet @rana_usman and can be reached at usmanashrafrana@gmail.com

The Database used for analysis is publicly available The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.




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