ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday confirmed, after five days, the death of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in a drone strike conducted in the province of Balochistan.
The information was confirmed by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.
The drone strike was also the first in the restive province of Balochistan, considered a red-line by the Pakistani government. Authorisation for the strike came directly from US President Barack Obama.
“All indicators confirm that the person killed in the drone strike was Mullah Mansour, who was travelling on a fake identity,” confirmed the adviser to the PM on foreign affairs.
Aziz added they are also waiting for the DNA test report.
“The body will not be handed over till we get the DNA report.”
The adviser on foreign affairs was of the opinion that the action has undermined the Afghan peace process once again.
“In less than a year, the peace process has been scuttled twice,” lamented Aziz.
In our view there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The use of force for the past 15 years has failed to deliver peace, stated the adviser on foreign affairs.
Aziz said the approach taken will further destabilise Afghanistan, which will have negative implications for the region, especially due to the presence of large number of terrorist groups present in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan believes that politically negotiated settlement remains the most viable option for bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan. The military approach has been tried for 15 years and could not achieve the objective,” said Aziz while reiterating Pakistan’s stance on the Afghan conflict.
“Pakistan’s desire for a lasting peace in Afghanistan is motivated by our conviction that peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential not only for the people of that country but also for the entire region.”
Referring to the porous Pak-Afghan border, Aziz laid emphasis on Afghan government’s cooperation in keeping the border secure, as it is imperative for mutual security.
He also added that effective border management is vital for checking the infiltration along the border, as insurgents have been known to cross-over and attack targets inside Pakistan.
New Afghan Taliban chief
A spokesman of the Afghan Taliban on Wednesday confirmed the death of the group’s chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike.
In a statement sent to media Wednesday, the insurgent group said its new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, a former head of the Taliban’s judiciary and one of two Mansour’s deputies.
It said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, will serve as deputies, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said in the statement.
Both of the new deputies had earlier been thought to be the main contenders for the top job.
Mansour was reported killed in Pakistan on Saturday when his vehicle was struck by a US drone, believed to be the first time a Taliban leader was killed in such a way inside Pakistani territory.
The US and Afghan governments had stated Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process that had ground to a halt when he refused to participate in peace talks earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year.