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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid