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News ID: 2558
Publish Date: 12:30 - 02 November 2013
The death of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in an American drone strike Friday evening almost derailed the government's plan to hold peace talks with Taliban militants.
Mehsud was killed along with five senior leaders of the militant group when American drones fired missiles on a compound and their vehicles in North Waziristan tribal region.
The Taliban leaders came under attack after they held consultations ahead of the proposed peace talks with the government. 
Latest reports suggest that nearly 20 Taliban figures, who had gathered at the compound, were killed in the attack.   
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan accused the United States of sabotaging the government effort to initiate peace talks. He said a three-member government negotiating team was scheduled to go to Waziristan for "exploratory talks" with the Taliban on Saturday. However, the government cancelled the talks due to the strike.
In early June, the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan withdrew its dialogue offer to the government after a U.S. drone killed the group's deputy chief Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud. 
The TTP's central council was scheduled to nominate Hakimullah Mehsud's successor at the time of his funeral on Saturday.
Taliban leaders from Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan have so far held the group's top positions since it was founded in 2007 by Baitullah Mehsud who united all splinter groups in northwestern tribal regions. Hakimullah Mehsud was made the TTP chief in August 2009 after a U.S. drone strike killed Baitullah along with his wife in South Waziristan.
Expert on tribal affairs Mehmood Shah said that the TTP could split as deputy chief Khan Syed Mehsud alias Sajna has already been tipped as the new leader but other Taliban leaders could push for election of a non-Mehsud as the new TTP chief.
He said the peace talks would be postponed as it depended on the new TTP leadership.
Political analyst Ikram Sehgal said Hakimullah's death was a serious setback for the proposed peace dialogue, though his killing was seen as a huge blow to the TTP.
Senior political leaders also angrily reacted to Friday's drone strike when the government and the TPP were set to enter into the long-awaited peace talks aimed at putting an end to the bloodshed.
Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Justice Movement, said the U. S. does not want peace process in Pakistan, adding that his government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtukhwa province will block supplies bound for NATO-led troops in Afghanistan after approval of a resolution in the provincial assembly.
Jamiat ulema-e-Islam, a powerful Islamic party, condemned the TTP chief's killing and held the U.S. responsible for the failure of the peace process.
Hakimullah's death has also raised serious concern about the Taliban revenge as the group had carried out such attacks in the past. The federal government took extra security measurers shortly after Hakimullah's death.
Hakimullah Mehsud was the third senior Taliban leader killed in U.S. drone strikes this year.
Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, the TTP deputy chief, was killed in U.S. air raid in North Waziristan on May 29, 2013. Maulvi Nazir, chief of his own faction of the Taliban, was killed in South Waziristan on January 2, 2013.  

Xinhua By:    by Muhammad Tahir

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