2 Nov 2013

US drone strike marks ‘death of peace efforts’ – Pakistan

Pakistan’s foreign office summons the US ambassador and says that the drone strike which killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, has caused a serious setback to peace talks with the Taliban.

A statement from Pakistan’s foreign office said that the drone strike was “counter-productive to Pakistan’s efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region.”

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan added: “This is not just the killing of one person, it’s the death of all peace efforts.”

Security has been tightened across north west Pakistan after the Taliban threatened suicide bombings in revenge for the killing of Mehsud on Friday.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad‚ the interior minister said Pakistan-US relations would be reviewed in the coming days in the wake of the attack, according to a Channel 4 News source who was there.

The US ambassador for Pakistan has also been summoned and served a demarche, as Pakistan demands a response to their position.

Mr Khan said that the meeting between the government and the Taliban, due to take place on Saturday morning – hours after the drone attack – had been the result of intense, behind-the-scenes negotiations that lasted seven weeks.

It was decided two days ago that a three member delegation of Ulema would meet with Taliban representatives on Saturday, he added.

Mr Khan said the killing of Mehsud was therefore not killing of an individual but murder of the peace in the region.

However spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Azam Tariq, accused the government of a “double standard” in its stand on drone attacks: “The government will face serious consequences of the double standard.”

Pakistan ‘paying the price’

The interior minister also said that the 11 September attacks were a great tragedy but said that thousands of Pakistanis had lost their lives in the war against terror.

“He asked why Pakistan has to pay the price for New York tragedy?” said a Channel 4 News source.

Elsewhere, Pakistani Taliban (TTP) fighters secretly buried Hakimullah Mehsud on Saturday and held meetings to discuss who would replace him.

Militant commanders and security sources were reported as saying that Khan Said, also known as Sajna, was voted in as the new leader. But the TTP official spokesperson Azam Tariq, told Channel 4 News that a decision had not yet been made.