ISLAMABAD: With the government’s planned peace delegation to initiate talks with the Taliban in jeopardy after Friday’s drone strike reportedly killed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud, Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Saturday that the government of Pakistan the strike not on an individual, but on the peace process.
Nisar described the strike as “murder of peace in this area.”
The interior minister revealed that the strike just came hours before a Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal led delegation was supposed to travel and initiate talks with the Taliban.
He added that in their talks with various US officials including Secretary of State John Kerry, Pakistan had urged for drone strikes to be halted completely, especially during the peace talks, and that they had received assurances that the strikes will not target the TTP.
While the US had promised it will not target the TTP but only those fighters who were crossing into Afghanistan, along with Hakimullah Mehsud, Nisar said that Pakistan had objected to these as well as any strike in Pakistani territory since it could undermine the talks.
“Government of Pakistan does not see this strike as a strike on an individual, but on the peace process.”
Nisar also questioned the timing of Friday’s strike, asking why did the US have to target Mehsud on the eve of talks when there had been numerous opportunities to target him in the past?
“I want to give the message that those who have scuttled the peace process, should have tolerance, we must all play our part in peace process.”
Rejecting the notion that the government of Pakistan was involved in Friday’s drone strike, he said that the official view of the strike was that it was an “ambush of peace talks” with the Taliban, and that five decisions had been taken in a high level meeting.
The first of these was that the US ambassador was being summoned to the foreign office and that he will be served a demarche.
Secondly, Pakistani foreign office and ambassadors were being activated to approach the permanent members of the UN security council to take them in confidence over the strike to form a future course of action.
A cabinet meeting has also been called to form a future course of action as soon as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns.
Nisar added that a decision had also been taken to review all aspects of Pakistan-US relations.
He added that all the political parties, who had expressed their support for peace talks despite reservations (MQM) or difference of opinion (PTI), will be taken into confidence to form a future course of action.
Nisar said the decision had been taken in a meeting in Islamabad with Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz‚ PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatmi‚ Foreign and Interior Secretaries and officials of different security agencies are attending the meeting.
Nisar added that he was also in contact with the Prime Minister and that several meetings over the issue were expected once he returns to the country.
PTI welcomes Ch Nisar's statement 2day;expect federal govt 2 act on the 5 decisions 2day.But PTI will block NATO supplies till drones stop.
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) November 2, 2013