Wednesday May 25, 2016

Army chief conveys serious concern to US over drone strike in Balochistan

Army chief conveys serious concern to US over drone strike in Balochistan

RAWALPINDI: In a meeting with US Ambassador David Hale, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over a US drone strike in Balochistan earlier this week that allegedly killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

US Ambassador David Hale visited the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) here today where he called on the Army chief.

According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the situation arising after US drone strike in Balochistan on 22 May 2016 came under discussion during the meeting.

"While expressing his serious concerns over the said drone strike, COAS said such acts of sovereignty violations are detrimental to relations between both countries and are counter-productive for ongoing peace process for regional stability," said the ISPR statement.

General Raheel Sharif said that Pakistan’s efforts, successes and sacrifices in fight against terrorism have been unparalleled.

The Army chief's latest statement comes as the Afghan Taliban comes a day after Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour was not hindering the Afghan peace process.

Nisar said that Pakistan had yet to confirm the identity of one of the two persons targeted by the drone strike in Noshki area of Balochistan province. "Mullah Mansour Akhtar’s killing can't be confirmed, as there is no scientific source to confirm the identity of the targeted body. The DNA report of the targeted person is awaited,” he had said.

But earlier today, the Taliban shura (supreme council) confirmed Mansour's death in the US drone strike in Balochistan, and announced their new successor as the chief of the militant group.

A statement by the Taliban said that Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada – a religious cleric and close aide of Mansour who previously served as the head of the courts during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan – has been appointed the successor of Mullah Mansour in a unanimous vote by the Taliban leadership.

"Hibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of the shura pledged allegiance to him," the Taliban said in the statement.

The statement added that Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqoob have been appointed deputy supreme leaders of the Afghan Taliban.

"Mansour's body was taken to Afghanistan on Tuesday and he was laid to rest in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar," a statement issued by Afghan Taliban supreme council said.