Although often highlighted in the US media, the mysterious world of private contractors drew little attention in Pakistan until recently, when a report by the Brown University’s Costs of War Project mentioned that 90 American contractors were among the 65,000 people killed in Pakistan in the last 17 years.
The activities of private contractors in Pakistan did not receive much attention in the US media either, mainly because the death tolls in Afghanistan and Iraq were much higher.
According to the Brown University report, a total of 7,820 private American contractors have been killed since 2001. Of them 3,937 were killed in Afghanistan, 3,793 in Iraq and 90 in Pakistan.
For most Pakistanis, even 90 contractors are far too many as the number makes them realise that hundreds of private American contractors have been operating in their country without their knowledge.
But the 2010 solicitation explains why the United States had to hire a large number of private contractors in Pakistan. It identifies “current limitations on having US military presence in Pakistan and threat levels precluding US Military active involvement” as the main reasons for hiring private contractors.
Defining a contractor’s functions, the solicitation states: “The contractor must be proactive at identifying appropriate methods for obtaining the necessary in-transit visibility information.”
Although no official statistics are available about the total number of American contractors deployed in Pakistan, in 2012 the US Central Command informed Congress approximately 137,000 contractors were working for the Pentagon in the greater Middle East region that includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.