Pakistan will not allow the death of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike to derail proposed peace talks, the information minister said Saturday.
Pervez Rasheed told reporters the government wanted to press ahead with its plan to negotiate with Mehsud’s Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“We can say that this time drone struck the peace talks but we will not let the peace talks die,” Rasheed said.
Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal district on Friday, throwing the talks process into doubt a day after the government said it was taking steps to initiate dialogue.
Rasheed said Pakistan was committed to peace through talks despite losing 40,000-50,000 civilians, soldiers, and police to militant violence.
“So I am sure that the other party will show the same spirit which we had shown,” he said.
The TTP’s ruling council was locked in talks Saturday to choose a replacement for Mehsud, who had led the network since the death of its founder Baitullah Mehsud in 2009.
Opposition politician Imran Khan condemned the drone strike as an attempt to “sabotage” peace efforts.