By M. Tahir Khan.
The targeted killing of Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has raised many eye brows on the US policy in the region. US President Barack Obama in a joint press conference in Vietnam had confirmed the death of Afghan Taliban Chief in US drone strike on Saturday morning in Baluchistan, Pakistan. President Barack Obama called the death of Taliban Chief as the important milestone with the view that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had rejected the Afghan government’s efforts for the peace in the region. He further stated that Mullah Mansoor, as the head of Taliban, had focused the attacks on US military personnel in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier informed Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by telephone call of a drone strike leaving Afghan Taliban Chief dead. Foreign Office spokesman, on Sunday evening, confirmed that Pakistani leadership has been informed about the drone strike in Baluchistan and according to the statement issued by the Foreign Office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif were already informed about the drone strike that may kill Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
The apparent drone strike not only targeted the Afghan Taliban Chief, but also affected the Pakistan’s long term relationships with Afghan Taliban leadership which were being exercised to bring them on board for talks to bring peace in the region. As stated by US President Barack Obama, it’s not against the Taliban’s leadership, who opposed peace talks, but it is against the leader who supported talks in the last couple years and under his leadership, talks were being held, however this process of peace talks seems to have reached at its end.
Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s press conference on one point agenda, on the apparent US drone strike on Afghan Taliban Chief has also raised many important questions in front of US government and all analysts are now viewing the situation in the region. In his press conference he highlighted following points;
First of all, it was pointed out in the press conference that the drone attack did not violate the Pakistan’s airspace and it has to be figured out who was the person killed in the car along with the driver. While the Passport and ID Card was found from the surroundings of the burned car without being affected in the drone strike.
Secondly, Ch. Nisar has also slammed US government for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by targeting Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in Pakistan and highlighted the point that why was he targeted in Pakistan when he used to travel in all other countries as well. He referred that he travelled to many countries including Iran, Qatar and Dubai then why was he targeted on Pakistan’s soil only?
Third, he has questioned the US policy in the region and criticized US statements that Mullah Mansoor was a hurdle and had rejected Afghan government’s efforts for peace talks in the region. He briefed in his press conference and answered the points raised by the US President and State department that it was only Mullah Akhtar Mansoor under whose leadership, the Taliban were participating in the peace process, which was witnessed by US and China in Murree peace process in June, 2015. The apparent drone strike leaving Mullah Mansoor dead has completely sabotaged the Afghan peace process in the region.
Fourth, the Interior Minister has also rejected US President’s remarks that they will target their enemy everywhere.
Army Chief General Raheel has also met William Hague, US Ambassador to Pakistan and conveyed Pakistan’s serious reservations on the violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Army Chief clarified to Ambassador that drone strike would be detrimental to the Pakistan-US ties and regional stability.
The travel history of Wali Khan (Mullah Mansoor Akhtar) revealed that he regularly used to travel across different countries, but this time he was returning from Iran about after 25 days visit and on the same day he had to return back but he was hit by the drone strike while travelling from Taftan to Quetta. This is not his first trip to Iran; it’s his second trip to the Iran in the following year 2016.
Why he was targeted when he was returning from Iran, it will remain a big question. Officials in Iran had denied that he had crossed Iran border, whereas his passport reveals opposite what Iranians describe. The target appears to be Pakistan in general, but the US claims and intelligent questions raised by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan bring US role in limelight to end the Afghan peace process initiated by Pakistan with its some influence on Afghan Taliban as well.
This is not the first time that US drone has stopped the peace process initiated by Pakistan. Earlier in 2013, US drone strike had also targeted the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan Chief Hakeem Ullah Mehsud when he was in the process of peace negotiations with Pakistan’s government and ultimately drone strike suspended the peace talks. However, Chaudhry Nisar is right in taking up US role in the region, whether they want to keep the region in permanent war zone or want to bring peace.
Today Taliban have chosen their new leader Haibatullah Akhunzada as new Chief and Siraj uddin Haqani and Mullah Yaqub as deputies. Haibatullah Akhunzada remained close to Mullah Umar and is a well known figure in Taliban leadership. His basic task will be to unite the different groups. Ultimately, important part relates to selection of new leadership which is over now, but Taliban’s targets will remain the same. More bloodshed is on cards in the coming months and those who are appreciating US role will have to rethink after a couple of months. It has now become almost impossible for next couple of months to bring Taliban on negotiation table. It will be Afghans who will suffer most, but Pakistan, being the next door neighbor, has to face difficult time as well.
US drone serves the interests of someone else not Afghans and not Pakistanis. Who will benefit from more destruction in the region? It is of course all anti Pakistan elements who are gathering together to develop Chahbahar Port, but excluding Afghans who have to face more bloodshed in their own country, they are ignorant to understand their own interests.