Leave it to Pakistani officials to display anger, denounce US policies, threaten to cut off important NATO supply routes and haul out tired conspiracy theories involving the United States and India.
What brought on this barrage? A U.S. drone strike that did the world a favor by killing the leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud. Even Pakistani officials considered him their enemy.
We’d like to believe the official show of anger was at least partially for public consumption in Pakistan, many of whose residents understandably object to drone strikes because the strikes have on occasion killed innocent civilians.
And Pakistan is still embarrassed that its intelligence community was left out of the raid on Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials had reason to be concerned that bin Laden lived as he did because he was under Pakistani protection — official or unofficial.
Mehsud certainly was no innocent civilian. It is he who planned the suicide bombing in 2009 that killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan. A bitter loss for the United States, that ambush padded a death toll for Mehsud that included hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians in Pakistan. He also was believed to have been involved in the planning of the 2010 car bombing in Times Square. After that attack failed, he made videos threatening further attacks on U.S. cities.
The drone strike that killed Mehsud was part of a campaign that has continued to impair the Pakistani Taliban — probably with tacit Pakistani government approval. It’s worth noting that this drone strike occurred less than two weeks after Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif visited the White House.
Mehsud took over as head of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009 after separate drone strikes killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and the second in command, Wali ur-Rehman. More recently, U.S. forces in Afghanistan captured one of Hakimullah Mehsud’s key assistants. That individual is Latif Mehsud, who served as a go-between with multiple Taliban factions.
Among official Pakistani allegations against the United States was that the drone strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud and other drone strikes will undermine peace talks between the government and the Taliban. That’s almost laughable; the only deal the Taliban will make with the Pakistan government is one that leaves the Taliban in complete control.
One of the few remaining impediments to the Taliban are U.S. drone strikes that target terrorists who have taken over for the last leaders killed by a drone.