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The Unbearable Humanness of Drone Warfare in FATA, Pakistan


  • Note: Corrections arising from errors in the production process have been made to this article on 30th September 2011 after first publication online on 21st September 2011. Corrections are listed on the pages where they occur.


Abstract:  This paper provides a critical analysis of how and why US-led drone warfare is conducted in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. First, we provide detailed statistics on the scale and funding of US drone operations, noting a rapid acceleration of its adoption by the military. This is then situated within an overarching narrative of the logic of “targeting”. Second, we study a legal document called the “Frontier Crimes Regulation” of 1901 that defines the relationship of FATA to the rest of Pakistan as an “exceptional” place. In the third section, we argue that the drone is a political actor with a fetishized existence, and this enables it to violate sovereign Pakistani territory. In this sense, the continued violence waged by robots in Pakistan's tribal areas is a result of the deadly interaction between law and technology. The paper concludes by noting the proliferation of drones in everyday life.

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