No drone attacks during Taliban talks: US to Pakistan
Islamabad – The US has assured Pakistan it would not conduct any drone strikes during peace talks with the Taliban, Pakistan’s top security advisor said Wednesday.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan prime minister’s advisor on foreign affairs and national security, told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in Islamabad that the US drone strike which killed Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud this month has harmed the peace talks with the militants, Xinhua reported.
Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan tribal region Nov 1, just one day before a team of top Islamic scholars were to meet him to discuss the agenda and venue for the negotiations.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) refused to hold talks with the gove! rnment after the killing of their chief and also announced revenge attacks.
“The US drone which killed the Taliban leader harmed Pakistan’s peace initiative,” Aziz told the committee convened to discuss the status of the government’s peace efforts.
“The US has now assured Pakistan that it will not launch any drone strike when talks with the Taliban are started,” Aziz said.
The ruling coalition in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has announced it would block the supply route for NATO forces from Nov 23 as a protest against the drone strikes.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party rules the province, has said the blockade of the route will continue unless the US stops drone attacks.
The drone strikes is a source of tension between Pakistan and the US as Washington is in no mood to change its covert operations despite Islamabad’s public condemnation.
The US insists that Pakistan has failed to ! act against Al Qaeda operatives and the Taliban militants in Waziristan! tribal region who are accused of cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.