Shakira was one-year-old when she was found severely burned and near death in a trash can in Pakistan's Swat Valley. The girl had been left to die after she was badly wounded by an alleged U.S. drone attack in 2009. Yet Shakira was saved by a group of doctors, and now she is set to receive reconstructive surgery in Shriner's Hospital in Galveston, Texas, CNN reports.
Shakira was brought to the United States by Hasmat Effendi, her caretaker and one of the doctors who found her and two other girls in that trash can several years ago. The doctors took the three young girls to a nearby hospital, but could only save one of them. She was named 'Shakira,' which means 'thankful,' according to CNN.
In Galveston, doctors agreed to treat Shakira for free. They will operate on the scars on her face and body, although she will never fully heal from her wounds. According to The Daily Mail, it will take Shakira up to a year to recover.
Although the U.S. has not publicly confirmed its drone program in Pakistan, the country is believed to frequently use the small, pilotless aircrafts in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to target suspected militants and terrorists.
The number of drone strikes in Pakistan has increased significantly under the Obama administration, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Under President Obama, the CIA has expanded the drone war to target anyone in Pakistan's tribal areas it considers a potential threat. The CIA has authority to fire at will, without authorization from outside the agency, as long as targets are in approved geographic "boxes" near the Afghan border," the newspaper writes.
In August, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report showing that over 160 children have died in the United States' drone strikes on Pakistan. In December, Wired.com published rare, graphic photos that purportedly show children injured in drone attacks.
According to The Guardian, Pakistan is believed to have supported the drones in the past, despite public condemnations. Yet the program is extremely unpopular with the population and the Pakistani government recently demanded that the U.S. shut down a suspected drone base.