Drone attack that killed Mehsud 'severe blow' to peace: Sharif
Referring to recent contacts with the Taliban, Sharif told a special meeting of the federal cabinet here this evening that two-way communications had started and "the ice was melting" between the government and the militants. "Amidst this scenario, the drone strike inflicted serious damage to the governments efforts for dialogue and peace. But we hope to put the derailed peace process back on track," he said.
Without naming the US, Sharif said Pakistan will not allow anyone to derail the peace process. "We will not let the efforts for dialogue and peace to be derailed," he said. Sharif added that if the peace process cannot be supported, "then at least it should not be harmed". "The continuity of the deplorable and condemnable drone attacks show that Pakistan's point of view about lasting peace and ending terrorism has not been properly understood. We should be allowed to solve our problems according to our own strategy," he was quoted as saying in an official statement. Mehsud was killed with several other militants when a CIA-operated spy plane targeted a compound in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region on Friday.
Drone attack violates sovereignity of Pakistan: Sharif
His death occurred hours before a team representing the government was to meet with the Taliban regarding the talks process. Sharif stressed that the government, military and all political parties want to resolve the issue of terrorism through dialogue. "Pakistan is an independent and sovereign state. We are free to make decisions," he said.
Earlier in the day, while making his first public remarks after the killing of Mehsud, Sharif said the US drone campaign violates the sovereignty of Pakistan, which will not allow its national security policies to be determined by foreign powers. Without referring to the killing of the Taliban chief, he said US drone strikes also violate international laws and are counter-productive to efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region.