Today, the Obama administration is flying armed drones in seven countries: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Yet, with such vast areas being covered, a White House report states that US drones have killed only 64 to 116 civilians in 473 strikes launched between 2009 and 2015. 2,372 to 2,581 combatants were killed during the said period.

This is a strange way of presenting death toll figures. If between 64 and 116 civilians and between 2,372- 2,581 combatants were killed, that gives us a possible 261 people who are either undead, unliving, non-civilian or non-combatants in the last 7 years! A pretty huge ambiguity. Often, neither the military nor US intelligence agencies are able to send an operative to the scene of a drone strike, making it impossible to definitively assess how many people were hit. The drones program is a human rights landmine.

In this context, on Saturday, Pakistan demanded an immediate cessation of drone strikes in its territory at the United Nations, terming it a violation of “territorial integrity and sovereignty of states”.

Though the drones must stop, we may not be the best spokesperson for an anti-drone campaign after the killing of Mullah Mansour of the Afghan Taliban by a US drone. The simple international response to this is that drone strikes by US would not be required if safe havens to terrorists were not available in Pakistan. We are not conducting diplomacy from a position of strength. Additionally, if security and sovereignty issues were actually resolved at the UN, the world would be a peaceful place.

The demand is important to show Pakistan’s concern, but irrelevant to how US security tactics in South Asia will actually pan out. A better strategy would be to focus on human rights abuses, rather than the abuse of sovereignty by drones. This way, at least we have some global opinion supporting us. Rights activists like the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are already questioning the White House data, saying it does not match independent estimates or explain why certain individuals were targeted.

For President Obama, the low number of civilian deaths detailed in the report – fewer than 116 in seven years – amounts to a vindication of the drone program’s effectiveness. The report offers no detail on the times or locations of the strikes nor does it attempt to answer the broader criticism that the anger and resentment in places such as Pakistan and Yemen has helped feed the ranks of terrorist groups. What this is, is an increasingly unshakable conviction in the White House that the drone strikes have helped safeguard American lives and shift the country off an all-consuming war footing. The drones are here to stay.