ISLAMABAD: Calling the drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud on Friday “an attack on regional peace by America,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Saturday said bilateral ties with the US will now be reviewed.
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.
Mehsud, along with at least four other militants, was killed when a US drone targeted his car in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan near the Afghan border.
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.
The interior minister said a three-member committee, comprising of Islamic clerics, was scheduled to leave for a meeting with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership on Saturday morning.
Claiming that TTP leadership including Hakimullah was aware of the meeting, he said he had written and telephonic records of recent correspondence between the government and the militant outfit.
Earlier on Friday, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the Taliban had “no contact” with the government, a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said a process to initiate peace talks had already begun.
Chaudhry Nisar questioned timings of the Hakimullah’s killing by the US asking why he was targeted just a day before the talks. “Can this be called supporting peace initiative?”
He said the US ambassador was being summoned to serve a demarche and convey formal protest of the government over serious damage done to the dialogue process with Taliban by the drone attack.
Pakistan summons US envoy
Meanwhile, the Pakistani government summoned the US ambassador to protest over the death of TTP chief Mehsud.
A statement from the Foreign Office said Friday's strike was “counter-productive to Pakistan's efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region.”
“It has also been decided to instruct our Ambassadors in the Capitals of the P-5 member states to call at an appropriate level to brief the host Governments on our concerns, with specific reference to the setback caused to the Government’s peace process initiative by the latest drone attack,” the FO statement added.
Since its creation six years ago, the TTP has killed thousands of civilians, soldiers and police in its bloody insurgency against the Pakistani state.
It was also behind the attempt to kill schoolgirl education campaigner Malala Yousafzai in October last year.
Pakistan routinely condemns drone strikes on its soil as a violation of sovereignty and counterproductive to efforts to end militancy, but Nisar's criticism of the US was unusually forthright.