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The Unbearable Humanness of Drone Warfare in FATA, Pakistan

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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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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, The University of Glasgow, East Quadrangle, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK; 2: School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Harvill Building, Tucson, AZ, USA;

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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