ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Tuesday he could not confirm that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had been killed in a US drone strike as the body recovered from near the Afghan border was charred beyond recognition.
Nisar told reporters that DNA samples had been collected from the remains and would be tested against a relative who came forward to claim the body.
“The government of Pakistan cannot announce this without a scientific and legal basis,” he said.
Afghan Taliban chief was reportedly killed in a rare US drone strike deep inside Pakistan in Kuchaki area of Naushki district, over 200 kilometres away from Quetta, Balochistan.
“From international media reports, including those from Afghanistan, it can be said Mansoor was the target of the attack and has been killed.” The US, he said, notified Pakistan of the attack seven hours after the attack.
US justification for drone strike “against international law”
The interior minister argued the US drone strike targeting Afghan Taliban leader while he was on Pakistani soil was not legal.
“For the US government to say that whoever is a threat to them will be targeted wherever they are, that is against international law,” he said.
“Irrespective of who was the target of the attack, the government strongly condemns the drone strike.”
Pakistan will put forth its stance on the attack after due consultation and viewpoint of the civil and military stakeholders and taking into account intelligence information, said the interior minister.
At the same time, he advised the US to decide what policy it sees effective in this region because the peace dialogue from the Afghan side was being led by the Taliban chief.
Mullah Mansoor had reportedly travelled to several countries of the world, why was he only targeted in Pakistan, Nisar raised a question.
On Monday evening, Pakistan summoned US ambassador David Hale, conveying that the strike was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the United Nation’s charter on territorial integrity.
It was also conveyed that such actions could adversely impact the ongoing efforts by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) for facilitating peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban.
While the Washington said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was notified of the strike, Islamabad denounced the attack and termed it a violation of its air space, saying only negotiations could bring a lasting peace to Afghanistan.
The US has carried out hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, mainly in the country’s border tribal regions with Afghanistan, with leaked documents showing Islamabad had quietly consented, despite publicly protesting.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Nisar said people should appreciate how drone strikes have decreased in the recent years.
He lambasted Washington over its drone strikes inside Pakistan, saying, “Not an independent or sovereign country can allow such drone attacks on its soil.”
Commenting on the loopholes that have let illegal migrants enter into the Pakistani territory, the security’s top czar said, “For the last 40 years now, more than 0.3 million migrants have reached Pakistan. About 30,000 people cross the border on daily basis and there is no monitoring system for that. It’s like a needle out of a haystack to keep a check on every single person.”
However, he said, we are trying to improve the system.”
“There has arisen a lot of uncertainties as to what will happen next and I would like to see the reaction by the Afghan Taliban after their leader has been killed.”