The Friday assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud by a US drone strike has had a major deleterious impact on the Pakistan peace process with the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other tribal region factions. The TTP has put the talks on hold more or less permanently, saying they won’t even revisit the question until they have a new leader.
Pakistani officials have accused the US of reneging on a promise to halt drone strikes for the duration of the peace process, and the Pakistani cabinet met today to discuss the impact of the attack on US relations, along with examining what security options they have to prevent future attacks.
They also got a rare expression of support from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has long backed strikes on Pakistan but conceded today that it “took place at an unsuitable time.”
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the killing, insisting Hakimullah is “known to have targeted and killed many Americans,” and saying that the strike defended Pakistan from the insurgency.
Yet the strike has left Pakistan’s military on high alert, fretting the inevitable retaliatory strikes, and hundreds of attacks over the past several years by the US don’t appear to have materially degraded the TTP, and indeed are fueling sympathy for the group among various tribes in North and South Waziristan, doubly so since many civilians in those provinces have also been killed.
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