Central & South Asia

Pakistan to review US ties after drone attack

Nawaz Sharif to meet army chief and make policy statement over killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

Last Modified: 04 Nov 2013 12:18
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The US had put a $5m bounty on Hakimullah Mehsud's head before killing him last Friday [Reuters]

Pakistan is to review its relations with the US following the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, according to local media reports.

Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, will meet General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of army staff, on Monday and attend a briefing at the Foreign Office, the Dawn newspaper reported on its website.

There also also reports that parliament will debate blocking NATO supplies in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Citing unnamed sources, the Dawn also reported that Sharif was expected to make a policy statement on the situation arising out of the killing last Friday.

The US, who relations with Pakistan have been strained over its use of drone strikes that often kill civilians in the volatile North Waziristan, had put a $5m bounty on Mehsud's head, blamed for hotel bombings, assaults on political rallies, beheadings of policemen and suicide attacks on soldiers.

Before his death, Mehsud headed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is blamed for killing thousands in a six-year battle against the state.

Pakistani authorities were taking the first steps towards initiating talks with the Taliban when Mehsud was killed, prompting Chaudhry Nisar, interior minister, to accuse the US of "scuttling" peace efforts.

Hamid Karzai, the president of neighbouring Afghanistan, has added his voice to criticism of the US,
saying the killing of Mehsud came at "an unsuitable time".

Talks pledge

Sharif came to power in May partly on a pledge to hold talks to try to end the TTP's insurgency that has caused instability in Pakistan.

Nisar said on Saturday that "every aspect" of Pakistan's ties with the US would be reviewed by the cabinet security council, at a time when they appeared to be warming after lurching from crisis to crisis in 2011 and 2012.

Opposition parties led by former criket ace Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party have demanded the government close Pakistan's roads to convoys supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan.

PTI has said it will block NATO convoys in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where it is in power, which would cut off one of the main crossing points into Afghanistan.

Pakistan blocked NATO convoys for seven months in 2012 after a botched US air raid killed 24 troops.

With NATO withdrawing 87,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year after 12 years of war, the ground supply lines through Pakistan are of vital importance.


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