ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government said Saturday it would not allow the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike to derail proposed peace talks.
Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid told reporters in Islamabad that the government wanted to press ahead with its plan to negotiate with Mehsud’s Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“We can say that this time drone struck the peace talks but we will not let the peace talks die,” Rasheed said.
He said the process of peace should not stop despite the TTP chief’s death.
Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan agency Friday evening, throwing the talks process into doubt a day after the government said it was taking steps to initiate dialogue.
Rashid said Pakistan was committed to peace through talks despite losing 40,000-50,000 civilians, soldiers, and police to militant violence.
“So I am sure that the other party will show the same spirit which we had shown,” he said.
Opposition politician Imran Khan condemned the drone strike as an attempt to “sabotage” peace efforts, and called for the federal government to block Nato supplies going through the country.
However, when asked by reporters, Rashid said blocking Nato supplies will not end drone strikes.
“We blocked Nato supplies in the past after (the incident at) Salala. Drone strikes did not stop then, and will not stop now,” he said.
When asked if the strike signified a failure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to the US, Rashid rejected the notion. “They are two separate, unrelated things. They should not be looked at in this way.”