Pakistan has accused the United States of violating its sovereignty by using a drone strike against Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
“This is a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the press while on a visit to London on Sunday.
Despite Sharif’s ire, it highlighted how far Washington has been willing to go in its fight with the Taliban. US officials said the drone strike had been authorised by President Barack Obama.
It was unclear how long Mansour had been in Pakistan prior to his alleged death, but he is also believed to have traveled to Iran.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said they had discovered a passport at the site of the strike which carried a valid Iranian visa. While the passport bore a different name, the picture was reported to resemble older photos of the Taliban leader.
The death of Mansour has yet to be confirmed by US authorities but Afghanistan authorities have already warned that his possible successor, Sirajuddin Haqqani, could prove to be an even more unrelenting foe. As a longtime warlord and head of the powerful Haqqani clan, he is considered the most likely choice to assume power.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has expressed hope that the removal of Mansour from power could re-open the door to peace talks between the Taliban and the government. After founder Mullah Mohammad Omar was confirmed dead last summer and Mansour took his place, the Taliban cut off all negotiations with Kabul.
es/jm (Reuters, AP)