ISLAMABAD, Nov 20: US President Barack Obama indicated during his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month that he would like to stop using drones, according to notes of the meeting taken by the Pakistani side. And when Pakistan strongly reacted to the killing of the chief of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Hakeemullah Mehsud, the US side immediately conveyed its willingness to suspend attacks against TTP leaders during their peace talks with the government.

A background document on Prime Minister Sharif’s visit to the US circulated among the members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee quoted President Obama as having said: “US would wish to get out of the business of drones and not engage in operations that had domestic and international political costs.”

Although there was no direct mention of the drones in the joint statement after the White House meeting, President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif noted their “shared interest in… mutually determined measures to counter terrorism”.

Prime Minister Sharif was nonetheless told that Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahri and Mehsud would not be spared if spotted, the document said.

A week later, US drones took out Mehsud as he returned to his home in Dandey Darpakhel, about 5km north of Miramshah.

His death came a day before a delegation of clerics nominated by the government was to meet Mehsud to open negotiations for peace.

The drone strike angered the government and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar termed it “murder of peace”.

US Ambassador Richard Olson was summoned to the Foreign Office for receiving the official protest. The government also threatened to review ties with the US.

Behind the scenes, the US offered to suspend drone attacks against TTP targets for the period the militant outfit remained engaged with the government in peace talks.

“US has assured us that TTP leaders would not be attacked if dialogue starts,” Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz told the Senate committee.

The dialogue with the militants, he said, was on standstill and the government would again talk to the US on the matter once the peace process resumed.

PTI information secretary Shireen Mazari rejected Mr Aziz’s statement as “non-credible” and “meaningless”. “Why is Sartaj Aziz behaving like spokesperson for US government when they have given no official statement on any halt of drone attacks?” she said in a twitter posting.

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