A drone strike which killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has been seen by many groups in Pakistan as US’s way of derailing planned peace talk with Tehreek-e-Taliban.
Following this development, the Pakistani government has summoned the US ambassador to protest the drone strike. The country’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Saturday that the strike was “counter-productive to Pakistan’s efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region”.
The interior minister echoed that sentiment and said that the drone strike was a “murder of peace”.
“The government of Pakistan does not see this strike as a strike on an individual, but on the peace process,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told Pakistan’s Express-Tribune newspaper.
Nisar accused the US of double-crossing Pakistan after the US ambassador to Islamabad assured him that the US would support a dialogue that Pakistan had initiated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The US ambassador had also assured Islamabad that there would be no attacks on Pakistani territory, before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington for talks last month, reports say.
Sharif had been expected to send a delegation to open contacts with the group, after winning backing for dialogue from political parties last month.
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.
Pakistani Taliban fighters secretly buried their leader on Saturday and quickly moved to replace him while vowing a wave of revenge suicide bombings.
“Every drop of Hakimullah’s blood will turn into a suicide bomber,” said Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman.
“America and their friends shouldn’t be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr’s blood.”
Security forces were put on red alert after the attack just outside Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan province, bordering Afghanistan, as there were apprehensions of a wave of punitive reprisal attacks by the TTP.
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, several attacks against major Pakistani military installations and the attempt to kill schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai last year.