New Pakistan Government Furious at US Drone Attacks; Taliban Calls Off Peace Talks
June 2, 2013
Jason Ditz /AntiWar.com & The International News & Mushtaq Yusufzai / NBC News
Pakistan's newly president and prime minister Nawaz Sharif have expressed his serious concern over the latest deadly US drone strike inside Pakistani territory. Meanwhile, Pakistan's Taliban backed out of peace talks with the government after confirming the death of its top military commander and deputy leader, Waliur Rahman, in a US drone strike in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region. A Taliban spokesperson threatened the group would "take revenge."
Incoming Pakistan Government Furious at US Drone Strikes
Jason Ditz /AntiWar.com
(May 31, 2013) -- Incoming Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued a statement angrily condemning this week’s US drone strike, insisting it was a violation of Pakistani sovereignty as well as a violation of international law.
Sharif summoned US embassy officials to deliver the complain to the Obama Administration. Anger over the attack extends beyond the incoming ruling party, with opposition leader Imran Khan also slamming the attack as showing “hostile intent" to the new Pakistani government.
The Obama Administration’s policy of drone strikes has driven considerable anti-US sentiment in Pakistan, and was a driving factor in this month’s Pakistani election, in which a ruling party perceived as weak on the attacks saw its representation evaporate in the face of Sharif and Khan both running in opposition to the drones.
The Wednesday attack was particularly onerous for the Sharif government, since the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the targeted militant faction, was being courted for peace talks by Sharif, and has withdrawn from those talks in the wake of the attack.
The US is unapologetic over the attacks, with Secretary of State John Kerry insisting that attacks are legal because of 9/11, and that the killing of suspects “is necessary in order to protect US lives."
US Drone Strike Has Damaged Peace Process: PML-N
The International News
LAHORE (June 1, 2013) -- PML-N president and the incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday expressed his serious concern and deep disappointment over the Thursday’s drone strike inside the Pakistani territory.
In a statement, Nawaz said the strike was not only a violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also an action that has been declared as a violation of international law and the UN Charter.
A close aide to Nawaz conveyed his sentiments to the US Charge d’ Affairs Ambassador Richard Hoagland. The aide told the US diplomat that the drone attack, coming within days of President Obama’s “crossroads" speech was highly regrettable, particularly as the president had spoken of initiating a new policy that would ensure greater exercise of care and caution in the use of this technology.
He also pointed out that meaningful consultations and close cooperation between the two countries should be the desired course of action, rather than unilateral measures.Meanwhile, talking to media persons outside the Parliament House Friday afternoon, senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the upcoming PML-N government in the center would frame a national policy on drone strikes in consultation with all political parties and stakeholders.
Nisar said drone attacks negated the sovereignty of Pakistan and threatened regional peace and stability.“The United States has harmed peace efforts in Pakistan while continuing drone attacks for the sake of their own interests," he said and pointed out that the US imposed the war on Pakistan about 12 years back and was hindering peace efforts.
It may be pointed out that in his maiden speech on floor of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday, the new elected Chief Minister Parvaiz Khattak asked the PML-N leadership to adopt an unambiguous policy on drone attacks.
Nisar said the issue of Chief Minister of Balochistan would be resolved in the next few days adding that Nawaz Sharif wanted good governance and peace in the province.“The Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Part and Balochistan National Party have left it to Nawaz Sharif to decide the name of Balochistan chief minister," he said.
To a question, Nisar said the PML-N would not appoint a new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to its liking.“We will hold a meaningful and objective consultation on the new NAB chairman and will also keep in view the directives of the Supreme Court in this regard," he said.
Taliban Rejects Peace Talks after Deputy Chief Killed in US Drone Strike
Mushtaq Yusufzai / NBC News
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday backed out of peace talks with the government after confirming the death of its top military commander and deputy leader, Waliur Rahman, in a US drone strike in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region.
"We are so sad to announce that our sincere and brave leader and a great mujahid [holy warrior], Maulana Waliur Rahman, has died in a US drone attack on Wednesday. It's a huge loss for us," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said, adding that the group plans "to take revenge."
The spokesman said that the group had withdrawn from peace talks with the Pakistani government and that it blamed the killing on the "Pakistani establishment" and the United States.
"We will teach a lesson to Pakistan and United States for depriving us of our beloved leader," he said.
Security in the capital, Islamabad, was beefed up after Rahman's death, with a senior police official in the city saying Thursday that the force was on "red alert" after fresh intelligence reports indicated "possible terror attacks."
Cars coming into the city were being stopped and examined at checkpoints, the official said.
Taliban sources said that besides Rahman, three other senior militant commanders were killed in the drone attack and two others were critically injured.
Ihsan said the Taliban would soon announce Rahman's replacement, though some Taliban sources said the militants had already chosen commander Khan Said to replace him.
The drone strike came just before Pakistan's newly elected government was set to take the oath of office.
Both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which emerged as the two most popular political parties in the recent general election, are opposed to US drone strikes and pledged to stop the attacks if voted to power.
In a week's time, both parties will be in power and Nawaz Sharif's PML-N will be ruling Punjab and the center of the country while Imran Khan's PTI will be heading the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
After Baitullah Mahsud and Qari Hussain, a TTP commander known as a mentor of suicide bombers, Rahman was the third senior Pakistani Taliban leader killed in a US strike on Pakistani soil.
Rahman, a 42-year-old from South Waziristan, was considered a moderate in the TTP compared with some of his hawkish colleagues.
NBC News' Fakhar Rehman contributed to this report.
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