Islamabad, Nov 5: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told cabinet ministers that his government will pursue talks with the Taliban despite the killing of its chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a recent US drone strike.
The cabinet meeting was called to review the situation following Mehsud’s killing as the government accuses the US of sabotaging the proposed talks with the Taliban, Xinhua reports Tuesday.
A team of three top religious leaders were assigned the task to visit the Waziristan tribal region to discuss exploratory talks with the Taliban on the agenda and venue for the talks, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.
But the visit was cancelled due to the US attack in Waziristan.
Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the group will not talk to the government and will take revenge of the slain leader.
Prime Minister Sharif condemned the US drone attacks and said the strikes have severely damaged the government’s efforts for dialogue and establishment of peace, but he is confident that the process would not be derailed.
“If they (US) cannot extend cooperation to end terrorism then at least the peace process should not be damaged,” said the prime minister.
The prime minister said Pakistan has every right to take its own decisions in the interest of the country.
He pointed out that the continuation of the regrettable and condemnable drone strikes indicates that Pakistan’s view point on the establishment of durable peace and elimination of terrorism on a sustainable basis has not been understood.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan has to pay the price of terrorism more than anyone else and it is fully conscious of the seriousness of the issue. However, the country should be allowed to resolve the issue according to its own strategy.