World Bulletin/News Desk
Pakistan on Saturday accused the United States of sabotaging the country's peace process by killing top Taliban leader Hakumullah Mehsud in a drone attack.
"This is not the murder of a person. This is the murder of peace," Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference.
"This is not an attack on an individual. This is an attack on peace process," he said.
Mehsud, leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella of all Taliban groups in Pakistan, was killed in a suspected US drone in North Waziristan on Friday.
The killing has aborted government plans to initiate negotiations with the Taliban to bring an end to a decade-long homegrown militancy that has killed over 40,000 Pakistanis, including 4,000 security personnel.
"Everything was almost decided," Khan said.
"A delegation was due to visit North Waziristan to meet Taliban leadership and invite them for peace talks in line with a consensus developed by the country's political and military leadership."
Giving a passionate account of his behind-the-scene efforts aimed at coaxing the Taliban to come to the table, Khan described the drone attack as a "hide-and shoot".
"The US ambassador had promised in a meeting with me that there would be no drone attack on Pakistani Taliban during the peace process," Khan said.
"I had particularly asked the US ambassador not to attack Hakumullah Mehsud but he said if Mehsud was spotted, he would be attacked."
"If Hakumullah was attacked that how would the peace process move on," the Pakistani minister asked.
"This is completely understandable to me that if the person (Mehsud), who was supposed to lead the talks from Taliban side, is targeted, then where would it leave us," he asked.
"I want to share everything with the nation. I am not answerable to US President. I am able to answer my nation," he said in an emotional tone seen as an attempt to brush aside the impression that the US had a tacit support from Pakistan on the drone attack on the Taliban leader.
"I want to tell that side (Taliban) that Pakistan has nothing to do with this drone attack. We have summoned the US ambassador for explanation."
Not Pakistan's war
On Saturday, the Pakistani government placed security forces on high alert, fearing possible attacks following Mehsud's killing.
"I admit that this is a huge incident. We condemn it. But we want to ask you as well that the innocent people of Pakistan should not be target of your revenge. The people of Pakistan have already suffered a lot," Khan said.
"Targeting innocent people, mosques, churches and public places is not Islam," he said in a chocked voice.
"This is not time to settle the score. People from both sides (Taliban and government forces) have suffered a lot. Let's not let the anti-peace forces succeed".
The Interior Minister said that the ongoing war on terror in neighboring Afghanistan is not Pakistan's war.
"We have nothing to do with that. This is mine and my party’s years long stand. What is going on in Pakistan certainly is our war," he said, referring to suicide bombings and attacks that killed over 40,000 people, including 4,000 security personnel, since 2002.
"Pakistan has paid the highest price for the US war on terror," he said.
Khan said Pakistan's foreign mission has been asked to brief representative of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on the big blow to the country's peace process following Mehsud's killing.
Regarding the future course of action with the Taliban following the killing, Khan said the political and religious leaderships were trying to delineate a future strategy in this regard.
A meeting of the national security council of the cabinet is also being called in a couple of days, he added.Last Mod: 02 Kasım 2013, 17:36