“I was driving my tractor in the field when the rocket hit me…there was a lot of crossfire at the time between the government and the militants. My back was broken as a result… Now I cannot move either of my legs. I am forever disabled and cannot walk.” –Rahman, from Bajaur, Pakistan.
Daily dangers for civilians in Pakistan include militant attacks, drone strikes, military operations, and suicide bombings. Yet in talking with Pakistanis across the country and lawmakers in Islamabad, we found that war victims aren’t being properly recognized or helped.
In 2012, we were advisors to a Pakistani NGO on a government victims assistance program, which was approved by the Balochistan provincial government in 2013. The program allows victims of violence to access medical and monetary assistance. If properly implemented, the is also a template for other provinces dealing with conflict to create monetary and medical assistance programs for civilians caught in the crossfire. We also convinced the US Congress to create a fund in Pakistan to provide non-monetary assistance to conflict victims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
We are advocating for more responsible US counterterrorism practices, ensuring any lethal force used does not put civilians at increased risk and that the policy itself does not obscure the true cost to civilian populations. This includes drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.