By Orla Guerin: Pakistani civilian victims vent anger over US drones:
When tribal elders from the remote Pakistani region of North Waziristan travelled to Islamabad last week to protest against CIA drone strikes, a teenager called Tariq Khan was among them. A BBC team caught him on camera, sitting near the front of a tribal assembly, or jirga, listening carefully. Four days later the 16-year-old was dead, killed by one of the drones he was protesting against. In his final days, Tariq was living in fear, according to Neil Williams from the British legal charity, Reprieve, who met him at the Jirga. "He was really really petrified," said Mr. Williams from the British legal charity, Reprieve, who met him at the Jirga."He was really really petrified," said Mr Williams, "and so were his friends. He didn't want to go home because of the drones. They were all scared." Tariq carried with him the identity card of his teenage cousin, Asmar Ullah, who was killed by a drone. On Monday he shared his fate. Tariq's family say he was hit by two missiles as he was driving near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. The shy teenager, who was good with computers, was decapitated in the strike. His 12-year-old cousin Wahid was killed alongside him. The boys were on their way to see a relative, according to Tariq's uncle, Noor Kalam, whom we reached by phone. He denied that Tariq had any link to militant groups. "We condemn this very strongly," he said. "He was just a normal boy who loved football." The CIA's drone campaign is a covert war, conducted in remote terrain, where the facts are often in dispute. The tribal belt is off limits to foreign journalists. Militants often seal off the locations where drone strikes take place. The truth can be buried with the dead. After the missile strike on Monday, Pakistani officials said four suspected militants had been killed. If the strike actually killed two young boys, as appears to be the case, it's unlikely anyone will ever be held to account. There are no confirmed death tolls but several independent organizations estimate that drones have killed more than 2,000 people since 2004. Most are suspected to be militants. Many senior commanders from the Taliban and al-Quada are among the dead. But campaigners claim there have been hundreds of civilian victims, whose stories are seldom told. A shy teenage boy called Saadullah is one of them. He survived a drone strike that killed three of his relatives, but he lost both legs, one eye and his hope for the future. "I wanted to be a doctor," he told me, but I can't walk to school anymore. When I see others going, I wish I could join them."Like Tariq, Saadullah travelled to Islamabad for last week's jirga. Seated alongside him was Haji Zardullah, a white-bearded man who said he lost four nephews in a separate attack. "None of these were harmful people," he said. "Two were still in school and one was in college." Asghar Khan, a tribal elder in a cream turban, said three of his relatives paid with their lives for visiting a sick neighbor. "My brother, my nephew and another relative were killed by a drone in 2008," he said. "They were sitting with this sick man when the attack took place. There were no Taliban." Legal challenges: Viewed from a drone, any adult male in the tribal areas can look like a target, according to Mirza Sgahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who is taking on the CIA.