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Central & South Asia

PM condemns Pakistani Taliban chief's killing

Nawaz Sharif says violence will not bring peace, in first comments since drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud.

Last Modified: 04 Nov 2013 23:11
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The US had put a $5m bounty on Hakimullah Mehsud's head before killing him last Friday [Reuters]

The Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has said peace cannot be achieved "by unleashing senseless force", in his first public speech since a US drone strike killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

Though Sharif did not mention Friday's drone strike directly, he stressed his desire to "give peace a chance".

"My government is firmly resolved to bringing the cycle of bloodshed and violence to an end," he said on Monday.

"But it cannot be done overnight, nor can it be done by unleashing senseless force against our citizens, without first taking every effort to bring the misguided and confused elements of society, back to the mainstream," he said.

The killing of Mehsud as government representatives prepared to meet his Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction triggered an angry response from Islamabad.

The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar, accused Washington of sabotaging peace efforts with the drone strike.

Sharif came to power in May partly on a pledge to hold talks to try to reach a settlement with the TTP

He was to hold a meeting of his cabinet security committee on Monday evening after the interior minister said "every aspect" of Islamabad's ties with Washington would be reviewed.

Citing unnamed sources, the Dawn newspaper reported that Sharif was expected to make a policy statement on the situation arising out of Mehsud's killing.

NATO blockade

Meanwhile Imran Khan, the leader of the opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told members of the National Assembly that he planned to block NATO supplies into Afghanistan in protest at the US drone programme.

Khan gave Sharif's government 15 days to get the US to end it's drone flights or he would order the closure of NATO supply lines through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where his party is in power.

The KPK provincial assembly approved a resolution giving the central government until November 20 to secure an end to drone strikes.

NATO also uses a route through Baluchistan, which would remain unaffected. However, the first route is far busier.

US relations with Pakistan have been strained over its use of drone strikes that often kill civilians in North Waziristan.

It had put a $5m bounty on the head of Mehsud, blamed for hotel bombings, assaults on political rallies, beheadings of policemen and suicide attacks on soldiers.

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