BAHAWALPUR: In his first public speech since a US drone strike killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday warned that peace could not be achieved “by unleashing senseless force.”
The killing of Mehsud on Friday, as government representatives prepared to meet members of his Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella militant group, triggered an angry response from Islamabad.
Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar accused Washington of sabotaging peace efforts with the drone strike.
Though Sharif did not mention the drone strike directly, he stressed his desire to “give peace a chance”.
“My government is firmly resolved to bringing the cycle of bloodshed and violence to an end.
“But it cannot be done overnight, nor can it be done by unleashing senseless force against our citizens, without first making every effort to bring the misguided and confused elements of society back to the mainstream,” he said in a speech after army exercises near Bahawalpur in Punjab province.
Sharif came to power in the May general elections partly on a pledge to hold talks to try to end the TTP’s bloody insurgency that has fuelled instability in the country.
He is to hold a meeting of his cabinet security committee this evening after a furious Nisar said “every aspect” of Islamabad’s ties with Washington would be reviewed.