Pakistani officials have issued a statement objecting to the Saturday US drone strike against their territory that apparently assassinated Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, saying the strike was carried out without any advanced notice and violated Pakistani sovereignty.
Pakistan’s Sharif government has at times complained about US drone strikes, but at other times has appeared ambivalent on them. This is the first high-profile complaint about a strike in many months, likely reflecting it being one of the few strikes to kill a noteworthy target.
Beyond it being another high-profile case of the US thumbing their nose at the Pakistani government, the death of Mullah Mansour, who is just now starting to get control of the Taliban, could be bad news for the Pakistani government, which is under intense pressure from the US to convince the Taliban to return to peace talks.
Pakistan had managed to get peace talks going last year, only for the Afghan government to sabotage them in August by announcing that Mulalh Omar, the Taliban founder, was dead. Mansour, his successor, had to pull out of the talks to focus on a leadership battle, and was just starting to get into a position where he might afford to return to the talks.
Instead, it’s back to square one, with whoever replaces Mansour likely to face another leadership battle, meaning months more where the Taliban won’t be available for peace talks, and where the US will continue to blame Pakistan for the lack of progress.