Pakistani Taliban has appointed a new commander to lead the armed group after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in suspected US drone strike that led to three deaths.
Khan Said was appointed by the Shura, or consultative body of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on Saturday, after getting 43 of 60 votes.
Sajna was previously responsible for TTP operations in South Waziristan, and a trusted lieutenant of Mehsud.
Mehsud’s death on Friday came at a crucial moment in Pakistan’s efforts to end the group’s bloody six-year insurgency that has left thousands of soldiers, police and civilians dead.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been expected to send a delegation to open contacts with the group, after winning backing for dialogue from political parties last month.
The Pakistani Taliban was behind some of the most high-profile attacks in Pakistan in recent years, including the 2008 bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel and the attempt to kill schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai last year.
Officials said Mehsud was killed after attending a gathering of 25 Taliban leaders to discuss the government’s offer of talks.
Information Minister Pervez Rasheed said the government would not allow his death to derail proposed peace talks.
“We can say that this time drone struck the peace talks but we will not let the peace talks die,” Rasheed said.
No formal talks have begun and opposition parties accused the US of using the drone strike to stymie the process before it had even started.
Former cricketer Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party that rules in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said the strike had “sabotaged” peace talks.
“It has proved that they do not want peace in Pakistan,” said Khan, adding that PTI would move to block the transit of NATO supplies through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Afghanistan.