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Who were 66,000 Pakistanis killed in 20-year war

The war cost Pakistan US$126 billion

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 11, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 weeks ago
Posted: Sep 11, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 weeks ago


Twenty years ago, when terrorists crashed airliners into the Twin Towers in New York, at least 8 Pakistanis were among the 2,996 people who lost their lives. In the next 20 years, another 66,000 Pakistanis were killed in the US “war on terror” according to an American study – Pakistani estimates put the number of death at 83,000.

The US study, however, offers a profile of these mostly unnamed Pakistani civilians, military and police personnel, NGO workers, and journalists. Interestingly, at least 90 US contractors have also died in Pakistan, while the data on US military deaths in Pakistan have been glossed over.

As the US remembers its 9/11 victims and nearly 15,000 military personnel and contractor who were killed in the war, the deaths of 23,000 Pakistani civilians have largely been overlooked.

How many Pakistanis died in the war on terror?

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs (WIIPA) has titled its study on the war on terror as “Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars.” The study contains data updated to October 2019 with the tally beginning in October 2001. The data on Pakistan is mostly complete as terror attacks in Pakistan declined sharply in 2020, registering a 45% drop since 2019 and 86% drop since 2013, according to Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Army.

Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars says 66,000 people were killed in Pakistan during the 20-year war. The number is corroborated by the data gathered by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) which says 63, 898 people died in Pakistan between the years 2000 and 2019.

A Gulf New report quotes DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar as saying that 83,000 Pakistan died during the war. The newspaper, however, doesn’t, offers a breakup of the data.

Who were the Pakistani to die in the 20-year war?

Slightly more Pakistani civilians and security personnel died in the US war on terror than the militants killed during the same period in Pakistan.

WIIPA and South Asian Terrorism Portal have published separate but similar numbers, detailing Pakistani deaths.

Pakistanis who diedWIIPA tallySATP tally
Security forces9,1297,127

However, the DG ISPR at a press briefing earlier this year said Pakistan has lost 83,000 people to the war which also cost it US$126 billion. The army spokesman put the number of militant deaths at 18,000. The discrepancies between the numbers published by foreign sources and figures reported by Pakistani officials have one possible explanation. For many years western news agencies, newspapers and TV channels quoted US officials who claimed that most of the people killed in US drone attacks were militants. Many Pakistani media houses, on the other hand, reported the most civilians died in the drone attacks. The tally also differed.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says the 14-year US drone campaign killed between 2,514 and 4,023 people, including civilians that numbered between 424 and 969 – around 200 children among them. Pakistani media estimates of deaths by drone attacks are much higher.

The WIIPA data show more journalists were killed covering the war in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. While 67 journalists died in Afghanistan 86 were killed in Pakistan between October 2001 and October 2009, according to Watson Institute. Pakistan also lost 97 aid workers to the war. The figures on journalists and NGO workers have been included in the tally on civilians.

This collage shows photos of pupils and teachers who died in a terror attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.
This collage shows photos of pupils and teachers who died in a terror attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.

US military contractors killed in Pakistan

Most Pakistanis are familiar with the name of Raymond Allen Davis who was arrested in Lahore after killing two Pakistanis in 2011. Davis was a contractor hired by the Central Intelligence Agency to work in Pakistan. But he was not the only contractor operating in the country. Thousands of contractors operated in Pakistan and at least 90 of them died here, according to WIIPA report.

The number was first reported in the 2018 edition of “Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars.” However, little detail is available on the US contractors killed in Pakistan.

Ninety US contractors and an unkown number of soldiers were killed in Pakistan

A surge in the number of US contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan was reported in May 2010 – A year after Pakistan suffered from the deadliest attacks in 2009 that left around 12,000 people dead.

In addition to the contractors, some US soldiers are believed to have been killed in Pakistan, but their deaths were not indicated by WIIPA. It said the number has been “included in Afghanistan figure.” In 2010, the US military reported that at least 200 of its troops were in Pakistan.

Pakistanis who died in Manhattan

This family photo shows Salman Hamdani parents at his graduation ceremony.
This family photo shows Salman Hamdani with parents at his graduation ceremony.

At least 8 Pakistanis died in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed two planes into the Twin Towers. One of them Mohammed Salman Hamdani died rescuing people. Hamdani went missing as the towers collapsed and his body was one of the last to be identified in March 2002. However, immediately after 9/11, the US law enforcers investigated him for possible involvement in the attack. His name was cleared almost a month later when the US Congress admitted that many Muslim Americans acted heroically “including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.”

Other Pakistanis who were killed in Manhattan include Khalid Shahid, Taimour Khan, Robert R. Talhami, Bernard Mascarenhas, Tariq Amanullah, Michael Baksh, and Ehtesham Raja.

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How many Pakistanis died in war on terror, Who were Pakistani to die in the 20-year war, number of soldiers dead in war on terror, US military contractors killed in Pakistan, Pakistanis who died in Manhattan
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