NEW DELHI: A research paper on the human costs of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2001 - mid 2016), published by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, states that the combined, cumulative death toll of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001 is 173,000, with 183,000 others seriously injured.

Further, the paper notes that the cost of the wars has been more more than $800 billion in direct appropriations to the State Department and Department of Defense.

The report states that over the past nearly 15 years, approximately 111,000 people have been killed and more than 116,000 people have been injured in the war in Afghanistan. Of these, more than 31,000 of the dead are Afghan civilians. The war in Pakistan, which began as Al Qaeda and the Taliban fled from Afghanistan into the northwest region of Pakistan in 2001, has caused almost 62,000 deaths and an additional 67,000 injuries.

The latest figures show an increase from last year, when the Cost of War project estimated that 149,000 people had been killed in the Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict zone. The latest report notes that since then, the intensity of war in both countries has changed. In Afghanistan, violence is getting more intense, as civilian casualties reach yet another record high. In Pakistan, however, violence -- especially toward civilians -- diminished in 2015.

Although it’s premature to conclude that 2016 will be a worse year in terms of human cost than 2015, the figures from the first 6 months of this year suggest that the trend in increased death and injury continues in Afghanistan, and that after a lull in 2015, Pakistan has become increasingly violent in 2016.

The report notes that more than 31,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion by the United States, but adds that this number is necessarily an estimate as there were long periods in the war when there was little or no counting of civilians killed or injured as a consequence of the fighting.

The International Security Force (ISAF) established the Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell in 2008, which became the Civilian Casualty Mitigation Team in 2011. ISAF has made a database of civilian death and injury, but it has not consistently made the data public. The data is released to soldiers and commanders so that they can learn from incidents where civilians have been harmed. In 2007, when the war began to intensify, the Human Rights arm of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began to systematically record casualties in Afghanistan. In 2008 UNAMA began to publish, summary counts and analyses of the civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan's war. However, even these figures are not precise, as UNAMA itself acknowledges uncertainty and that they "may be under-reporting civilian casualties given limitations inherent in the operating environment." UNAMA excludes in its count of casualties the individuals for whom their combatant/non-combatant status is uncertain.

Pakistan, meanwhile, remains a hot, albeit underreported war zone. It is underreported partially because the news media have been targeted for killings but both militants and security forces, and because the Pakistani government controls journalists’ access. Thus, observers often do not agree on the best indicators of the war, including a disagreement on the number of journalists killed in the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 53 journalists killed in Pakistan since 2001, UNESCO counts 58 killed.

The report states that despite the uncertainty and opacity, the total number of people killed in Pakistan in 2015 was lower than in any single previous year since 2007. The report estimates that the war in Pakistan has directly caused about 62,000 violent deaths and an additional 67,000 injured from 2001 through 2015. However, in early 2016, the lethality of the war was on the rise.

Read the full report here: in Afghanistan and Pakistan UPDATE_FINAL.pdf