Pakistan furious with US after killer drone strike

Government claims attack was attempt to derail peace talks

Pakistan said today it was looking to review its relationship with the US after furiously denouncing a drone  attack that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

The strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud on Friday has been described by government officials as a “deliberate” attempt to derail proposed peace talks with the militant group, a move they say could spark a wave of revenge bombings.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office issued a statement yesterday saying he would chair a meeting about  the consequences of the strike for Pakistan’s ties with Washington. It is unclear when this meeting will take place. Mehsud was a notably vicious leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a position to which he rose after his mentor, Baitullah Mehsud, was slain in an earlier drone strike in August 2009.

His death has dealt a severe blow to the Taliban, which has launched a wave of brutal attacks against Pakistani civilians as well as Pakistani and Nato soldiers on both sides of the border. The Pakistani Taliban, which has managed to sustain its campaign of violence despite numerous assassinations, is reportedly appointing a successor to Mehsud. It has also vowed to withdraw from any talks and unleash revenge bombings. The government’s reconsideration of ties with Washington comes on the heels of threats from the cricketer- turned-politician Imran Khan to choke off Nato’s supply route that runs through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the north-western province run by his Movement for Justice party.

“Now it has been proven,” Mr Khan said. “Whenever Pakistan has tried to move towards negotiations, drone attacks have sabotaged the move.”

Mr Khan accused the US of calculatedly undermining talks with the Taliban as part of a clandestine attempt to keep Pakistan “constantly at war”. No negotiations have begun, but a day before the strike that killed Mehsud, the government had announced the process was poised to begin. The BBC said a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to the tribal area of North Waziristan on Saturday to meet Mehsud.

The public fury at drone strikes, even ones that kill Pakistan’s enemies, is reflective of the heightened pitch of anti-American fury inside the country. Urged on by the opposition, Mr Sharif complained about drone strikes on a visit to Washington to meet President Obama last week. There is a widespread perception within Pakistan, supported partly by a recent Amnesty International report, that unmanned American aircraft kill far more civilians than the CIA concedes. Recent independent estimates suggest that between 400 and 900 civilians have been killed in US drone strikes since 2008. However, a recent disclosure by Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence claimed that 67 civilians had been killed in such attacks in recent years, far less than its previous estimates.

The CIA’s drone aircraft target militants skulking in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border. The murky information about drones and their targets reflects the difficulty in establishing exactly what happens in an area too dangerous for independent observers to explore. But the anger against drone strikes is not merely about civilian casualties. Over recent years, politicians such as Mr Khan have roused fierce opposition to the CIA programme by appealing to Pakistanis’ sense of nationalism and accusing the US of violating the country’s sovereignty.

The debate is also complicated by allegations of Pakistani connivance in the attacks. The former governments of presidents Asif Ali Zardari and Gen Pervez Musharraf both quietly co-operated with the US while publicly denouncing the strikes. Mr Sharif’s government says it wants drones to halt and for negotiations with the Taliban to pave the way for an end to the terrorist bombings.

But critics warn that talks will legitimise the militants and could lead to a capitulation to their demands.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot