News that the leader of the Pakistani Taliban has been killed in a drone strike will be greeted with some joy within Pakistan, and will also be seen as a vindication of the drone policy pursued by the CIA inside the ‘tribal areas’ bordering Afghanistan.
Of course, Pakistanis would argue that the Pakistani Taliban would not be attacking their country had America not conducted its highly controversial drone strikes which the Pakistan military said has killed 67 civilians, and over a thousand militants.
Pakistan’s military has been accused of conniving with America in allowing the strikes to occur. If that is so, the reason for this may not be as straight forward as many believe. Pakistan’s relationship with America in the war on terror has always been to pursue their own nation’s interests, which in this case was to pacify a lawless part of the country – a borderland where the kidnap of young boys and girls was commonplace.
So, the drone programme is as much a Pakistani military project, as it was a CIA one.
The slaughter of Hakimullah Mehsud – however an unpleasant and unsavory character he may have been – is however, hugely problematic for Pakistan.
The rationale behind this assassination is of course to cut off the head of the snake, a man who the Pakistan military have been itching to get at after a series a high-profile attacks on their soldiers and headquarters.
For one, where does this leave the peace talks sponsored by the elected Prime Minster of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif – he had offered the Taliban the chance to engage in dialogue with the Pakistan government. That attempt at rapprochement was met with more attacks inside Pakistan, which left many wondering whether the Mehsud really spoke for the Pakistani Taliban, whoever they may have been.
And what does this say about the relationship between Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan military?
But more concerning than this of course, is the fear of what is follow. How many more Mehsuds have been created out of making this evil man a martyr?