Pakistan Slams U.S. Over Drone Strike Against Taliban Chief
Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud (left) with his commander Wali-ur Rehman in South Waziristan, in October 2009. AFP/Getty Images
Pakistan is blasting the United States for a drone strike that has allegedly killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Pakistan’s ties with the United States would be reviewed, after what he called “an attack on regional peace by America.”
Pakistan’s Dawn reports:
“Speaking to a press conference after concluding a high level meeting at the interior ministry, he vowed to raise the matter at international forums including the United Nations. The minister said that five permanent members of the UN Security Council will also be contacted on the issue.
“He said an urgent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) has been called to review bilateral cooperation and ties with the US. The meeting is expected to take place in next two to three days upon return of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from London, he added. …
“Speaking to both local and foreign media today, Nisar said the identity of those killed in the drone strike was irrelevant. ‘The government of Pakistan does not see this drone attack as an attack on an individual but as an attack on the peace process,’ he said.”
As we reported on Friday, the U.S. would not confirm it launched an attack against Meshud, but it said if the reports were true, it would be a major blow to the Pakistani Taliban. Meshud, who is believed to be behind the failed 2010 car bombing in New York’s Time Square, has been reported killed in the past.
The BBC reports that Meshud was killed just a day before Pakistan was scheduled to enter peace negotiations with the Taliban.
“Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a local TV news channel, Geo, that the drone strike was an attempt to ‘sabotage’ Pakistan’s peace talks with Taliban,” the BBC reports. “But many believe Mehsud’s death will leave the field open for groups that are known to have publicly favored a rapprochement with Pakistan.”
The AP adds:
“Mehsud’s death will complicate efforts by the government to negotiate a peace deal. After a drone strike killed the group’s No. 2 in May, the Pakistani Taliban fiercely rejected any idea of peace talks and accused the government of cooperating with the U.S.
“In recent weeks, the Pakistani Taliban appeared to soften its position against talks but had still made multiple demands for preconditions to any negotiating, including the end of drone strikes in the tribal areas.
“Pakistani officials regularly criticize the attacks as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, but the government is known to have supported some strikes in the past.
“‘We have properly understood the duel policy of the Pakistani government and its hypocrisy,’ the Pakistani Taliban spokesman said Saturday.”
The AP says that the Taliban will meet today to elect a new leader. Mehsud’s brother, Baitullah, who was the previous Taliban chief in Pakistan, was also killed by U.S. drone strike in August of 2009. As Mark reported at the time, “another Mehsud brother, Kalimullah, was killed last month in a clash with Pakistani security forces.”