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Nov 02, 2013

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In this October 4, 2009 photo, Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is seen during his meeting with media in Sararogha of the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border. (AP Photo)

Meena Menon, The Hindu

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the media on Saturday that Pakistan believes that the drone strike that killed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud was a deliberate attempt by the United States to foil the Pakistan government’s attempt to broker peace with the militants.

“Brick by brick in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process to bring peace to Pakistan and what have you done? You have scuttled [that] on the eve of the day and 18 hours before a delegation of respected religious leaders was to fly out to Miranshah and hand over a formal invitation on the venue and other issues concerned to the TTP,” he said.

The Minister said the government would review its relation and level of cooperation with the U.S. once Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned from London. “Every aspect of U.S.-Pakistan cooperation will be discussed and reviewed.”

He did not confirm if the government would consider blocking NATO supplies as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party has threatened to do.

However, the Minister said that even at this stage a 100 per cent confirmation of the exact number of people, and the entities, killed in the drone strikes was not available. Confirmations were made through indirect sources and it would be unfair to ask the government at this stage and speculate, Mr. Khan said. “Based on the reports of the people who were present there, the reports in the press are fairly accurate.”

Official sources said the government was waiting for security agencies to confirm Mehsud’s death as reports of his being killed in the past have proved false.

Mr. Chaudhry called the drone strike a murder of the peace process and added that the government of Pakistan sees this incident, not as an attack on an individual but as an assault on the peace process. It was irrelevant to debate who the individual was or who was with him, the Minister said. “This is a death of peace not the death of individual, they have ambushed peace by this action,” he said.

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