Wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan have killed at least 149,000 people between 2001 and 2014, says a recent report by a US think-tank.
The Watson Institute’s Costs of War Project also reports that another 162,000 have been wounded since the US-led offensive that toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The institute is affiliated with the Brown University, a prestigious Ivy League school, and publishes studies focusing on three main areas – development, security, and governance.
The 149,000 deaths include US military members, contractors, as well as at least 26,270 civilians in Afghanistan, and 21,500 in Pakistan. The figures also include members of the Afghan and Pakistani national police and security forces, and opposition forces, such as the Taliban.
The report points out that war violence, the resulting displacement of individuals from their homes, and destruction of the environment and public services have also contributed to an untold number of indirect deaths from malnutrition, disease, and lack of access to care.
“This report reminds us that the citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan have … suffered staggering untold and irreparable losses,” says said Catherine Lutz, Brown University Professor and co-director of the project.
“This report is the latest in our ongoing documenting of the significant human and financial consequences that the post 9/11 wars have had on the United States,” she adds.
The report notes that the armed conflict in Pakistan is closely related to the war and has killed tens of thousands of people, including at least 21,500 civilians.
It points out that several related armed conflicts are currently under way in Pakistan: militant groups attacking the Pakistani government, and frequently, civilians; the Pakistani government targeting militant groups and US drone strikes targeting militant groups.
“Civilians in Pakistan’s northwest and throughout the country commonly fall victim to violence by all parties of the fighting,” says Neta C. Crawford, a co-director of the project.
The report notes that local and international estimates of US drone casualties vary widely, with groups estimating anywhere between 1,900 and 3,800 people killed.
“What is certain,” says Crawford, “is that drone strikes disrupt peoples’ livelihoods, destroy infrastructure … and as a result, contribute to displacement, malnutrition, and disease. “The report points out that since 2004, millions of Pakistanis have been on the move, both internally displaced and in neighbouring countries. Refugees are particularly vulnerable to indirect deaths, but it is difficult to estimate these deaths among those internally displaced in the Pakistani border region, where media and humanitarian access is tightly restricted.