Hakimullah Mehsud drone strike: 'Death of peace efforts'

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan: "The Americans have a lot to learn"

Pakistan's interior minister has said the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has destroyed the country's nascent peace process.

"This is not just the killing of one person, it's the death of all peace efforts," Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

Pakistan summoned the US ambassador to protest over Friday's drone strike that killed Mehsud.

It came a day before a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to meet Mehsud.

Analysis

Hakimullah Mehsud was killed a day before Pakistani officials say they were scheduled to send a three-member team to start peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a local TV news channel, Geo, that the drone strike was an attempt to "sabotage" Pakistan's peace talks with Taliban.

But many believe Mehsud's death will leave the field open for groups that are known to have publicly favoured a rapprochement with Pakistan.

One of these groups is headed by Khan Said Sajna, the successor of Waliur Rehman, a militant commander who favoured talks with Islamabad and once contested the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban. Rehman was killed in a drone strike in May.

Mr Nisar accused the United States of "scuttling" efforts to begin peace talks, and said "every aspect" of Pakistan's co-operation with Washington would be reviewed.

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said: "The US has tried to attack the peace talks with this drone but we will not let them fail."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.

Mehsud was killed along with four other people - including two of his bodyguards - when four missiles struck their vehicle in the north-western region of North Waziristan, a senior Taliban official told the BBC.

Pakistani media say Mehsud's funeral has taken place at an unknown location in the tribal area of North Waziristan.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, vowed revenge, as Pakistan's security forces were put on high alert.

"Every drop of Hakimullah's blood will turn into a suicide bomber," he said. "America and their friends shouldn't be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr's blood."

The Taliban's ruling council met on Saturday to choose a new leader. Unconfirmed reports say regional commander Khan Said Sajna has been elected to the top job.

As well as Mehsud, the previous Pakistan Taliban leader was killed in a drone strike, in 2009.

A Pakistani policeman checks a commuter at a security checkpoint in Peshawar on 2 November 2013 following the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in the Pakistan tribal region Pakistani security services are on high alert following Hakimullah Mehsud's death in a US drone attack.
A Pakistani policeman searches a vehicle along a street in Peshawar on 2 November 2013 following the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in the Pakistan tribal region Mehsud and other militants were secretly buried early on Saturday, while a Taliban spokesman spoke of exacting a bloody revenge for the killing.
The then new Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud (L) sitting with his commander Wali-ur Rehman (R) during a meeting with local media representatives in South Waziristan on 4 October 2009 Mehsud, whose predecessor Baitullah Mehsud was killed in 2009, pictured in the same year with Taliban commander Waliur Rehman, who was killed in a drone strike in May
Taliban setback

Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the US president's National Security Council, would not comment on any US government involvement or confirm the death but said it would be a serious loss for the group.

The Pakistan government has strongly condemned the drone attack as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Shopkeeper Usman Ali: "America has done a terrible thing"

Mehsud's death is seen as another setback for the militant group after the recent capture of a senior commander by US forces in Afghanistan.

Mehsud, who led the insurgency from North Waziristan, had a $5m (£3.1m) FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

Hakimullah Mehsud

  • Became overall leader of Pakistani Taliban in 2009, aged 30, after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, died in a US drone strike
  • Masterminded campaign against Nato convoys in Khyber tribal region and Peshawar
  • Emerged as a prominent fighter after reputedly leading a raid that captured 300 soldiers
  • In 2010, he appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian who later killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan in a suicide attack

He came to prominence in 2007 as a commander under the militant group's founder Baitullah Mehsud, with the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers adding to his prestige among the militants.

His second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, was killed in a similar drone strike in May.

But BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says that however weakened the Taliban may be by this loss, they will fight on under a new leader.

In a rare interview two weeks ago, Mehsud told the BBC he was open to "serious talks" with the government but said he had not yet been approached.

Mehsud denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places, saying his targets were "America and its friends".

He had loose control over more than 30 militant groups in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Map

More on This Story

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.