ISLAMABAD, (The News): Interior Minister, Chaudjry Nisar Ali Khan Saturday said the death of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, in the US drone attack, was in fact a fatal blow to the peace process in the region, Geo News reported.
“The identity of those killed in the drone strike was “irrelevant”. The strike should not be viewed as the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, but rather as the murder of the peace process”, said he talking to media immediately after a high-level meeting.
Then interior minister also revealed that this news conference had been originally scheduled to announce a major development with regard to peace talks.
“Had Mehsud not been killed I would have been making an announcement that a three-member delegation comprising Ulema (religious clerics) was on its way to Taliban so that they could be formally invited for negotiations”, he said.
Nisar regretted the drone strike, which killed the TTP leader, who the government was supposed to negotiate peace with, had damaged the whole process big time.
He accused the US of “scuttling” efforts towards peace talks with the Taliban by killing the militants’ leader.
“You have scuttled it on the eve, 18 hours before a formal delegation of respected religious scholars was to fly to Miranshah and hand over this formal invitation.”
Vowing to review the future terms with the US, the interior minister came down heavy on Americans for sending the process years back.
“Every aspect of Pakistan’s cooperation with Washington would be reviewed following Mehsud’s killing”, said the interior minister.
He disclosed that he had warned the Washington not to target Hakimullah Mehsud as he was the party in the talks, but the US did not listen to him.
“The Americans said they would not stop at anything if they found Mehsud in the crosshairs of their drone-launched Hellfire missiles”, said he.
He also told the newsmen that the Foreign office had summoned the US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, to serve him with a démarche.
“Brick by brick in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process by which we could bring peace to Pakistan and what have you (the US) done?” he said.
Nisar added that Pakistan would take the five permanent members of the UN Security Council into confidence over drone attacks.
A US drone strike on Friday killed TTP commander Hakimullah Mehsud.
Mehsud, who had a $5 million US government bounty on him, died along with others when a US drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in a compound in the village of Dandey Darpakhel, five kilometres (three miles) north of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.
Mehsud’s death is likely to prompt revenge attacks by the Taliban and disrupt government efforts to begin negotiations, analysts said, but will also seriously weaken an outfit that has become one of the greatest security threats to Pakistan.
It also represents a success for the CIA’s drone programme targeting suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt at a time when it is under intense scrutiny over civilian casualties.