ISLAMABAD: 

The Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban faction in the North Waziristan tribal region has threatened to scrap a peace deal with the government to protest ‘inaction’ against US drone attacks in the region. The threat came after a key Taliban commander was killed in a drone strike last week.

Sherabat Khan Wazir, the group’s commander for the Datta Khel area, was among the 12 militants killed in Thursday’s drone strike. Over 40 people died in the attack targeting a tribal jirga.

Top military and political leadership condemned the strike and the US ambassador in Islamabad was summoned to the foreign ministry to seek an unconditional apology.

Sherabat Khan, a man from the Mada Khel clan of the Uthmanzai Wazir tribe, was the most popular commander of Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s group that shares the control of North Waziristan with the Haqqani network.

“He was one of the most important guys… he was the right-hand man of Bahadur,” a source

told The Express Tribune by phone.

Both groups are said to be pro-government and their operations are reportedly focused in Afghanistan where Nato forces are struggling to quell a deadly Taliban insurgency for almost a decade now.

A spokesperson for commander Gul Bahadur said in a statement on Sunday that they could scrap the peace deal with the government signed almost four years ago if drone strikes were not stopped.

“The agreement was made for the establishment of peace in the region but the people of North Waziristan are continuously being targeted with drone attacks and now even jirgas are not safe,” the spokesperson added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.