News / Asia

Pakistan Protests Drone Strike on Taliban Leader

FILE - Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, is seen with his comrade Waliur Rehman during his meeting with media in Sararogha of Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Oct. 4, 2009.FILE - Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, is seen with his comrade Waliur Rehman during his meeting with media in Sararogha of Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Oct. 4, 2009.
x
FILE - Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, is seen with his comrade Waliur Rehman during his meeting with media in Sararogha of Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Oct. 4, 2009.
FILE - Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, left, is seen with his comrade Waliur Rehman during his meeting with media in Sararogha of Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Oct. 4, 2009.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan has denounced the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike as an attempt to scuttle its plans to engage Islamist insurgents in peace talks.

The government summoned the American ambassador on Saturday to discuss the matter.

Even though the remotely-controlled unmanned American drone has eliminated Pakistan’s most wanted Islamist militant, it has apparently plunged the already troubled relations into a new crisis.

The attack took place this past week in the North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border and killed, among others, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Speaking to reporters Saturday in Islamabad, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the U.S. drone strike came just a day before the government was to send a delegation of Islamic clerics to the militant-dominated region to formally invite Mehsud’s group for peace talks.  He condemned the U.S. attack as a deliberate bid to “murder” the peace dialogue.

Khan said, “The efforts have been ambushed ... we hope the peace process will go on and this effort, which has been made to de-track the peace process, I hope will fail.”

US ambassador summoned

Minister Khan said the government summoned the U.S. ambassador to register a strong protest and Pakistan's government has taken several other retaliatory decisions.  But he would not clearly state whether suspension of convoys ferrying supplies through Pakistan to U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan will come under consideration.

“The entire perspective of Pak-U.S. relations and cooperation is going to be reviewed,” said Khan.

The United States had a $5 million bounty on Mehsud for his role in a deadly suicide attack on a CIA compound in a border province of Afghanistan in 2009.  His group also had claimed responsibility for a failed bombing in New York's Times Square in 2010.  

The 34-year-old leader had taken over the banned militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, in 2009 when its previous head was killed, also by a US drone strike the same year.

Khan said he repeatedly warned the American ambassador in recent weeks that drone strikes should not target Taliban leaders while the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is attempting to engage in peace talks with Taliban extremists.  

He added that Pakistan is helping the United States in its bid to hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to promote regional and international stability.  Khan noted that in the meeting with Prime Minister Sharif in Washington late last month, President Barack Obama voiced support for Pakistan’s peace initiatives to end militancy in the country.

Khan said, “Is this how you support the dialogue process that one day before regular discussions or consultations are due to start you go and take out the leader of the other (Taliban) outfit with whom we were to engage in these talks?”

Rift in relations

U.S. drone operations against fugitive al-Qaida and Taliban operatives in Pakistani border areas, and allegations the Pakistani military backs deadly cross-border insurgent raids on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan have been major causes of mutual suspicions and distrust.  

In a related development, popular Pakistani political leader Imran Khan, whose party rules the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, has threatened to block truck convoys ferrying supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in the event of further drone strikes.  He was addressing a separate news conference in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Imran Khan said his party will push the provincial legislature to unanimously adopt a resolution to block the supplies unless Pakistan is assured there will be no drone attacks in future.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province serves as a major supply route for sending supplies to international troops in Afghanistan.  A NATO cross-border airstrike that mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in 2011 had also plunged bilateral ties to historic lows and provoked Islamabad to suspend the supply lines for several months.

The latest standoff comes as the United States plans to withdraw most of its forces from Afghanistan by end of next year and it heavily relies on Pakistani land routes for an orderly drawdown.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid