A day after US confirmed the drone strike in Pakistan to kill Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the US has justified its decision.
The Obama administration came out with a statement that said that US respects Pakistan’s sovereignty but will carry out strikes to eliminate terrorists who are targeting Americans. US’ response comes after Pakistan lodged a protest against the US for carrying out a drone strike on its soil.
“We certainly do respect Pakistan’s territorial integrity. But as we’ve said before, we will carry out strikes to remove terrorists who are actively pursuing, and planning and directing attacks against US forces,” the State Department Deputy Spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at his daily news conference.
On Monday, Pakistan hit out at US for the drone strike accusing the US of violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. Pakistan also summoned US ambassador David Hale to express concern on the issue.
According to a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi pointed out to the US envoy that the drone strike was a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the UN’s Charter that guarantees the inviolability of the territorial integrity of its member states.”
Fatemi also emphasised that “such actions could adversely impact the ongoing efforts by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) for facilitating peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban.”
However US ignored Pakistan’s complaints and sent out a stern warning to the Taliban.
“The strike sends a clear message that those who target Americans and Afghan people are not going to be given a safe haven. And then also, that it knows that there’s only one option for the Taliban and that is to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” Toner said.
He also added that Mansour’s death sends out a clear message to the Taliban.
“What I think it does send is a clear message. If you’re going to carry out attacks, if you’re going to lead attacks against our forces and against Afghanistan’s forces, then you are going to be targeted and you’re not going to have safe haven,” Toner said.
He also said that Taliban must decide, “whether it’s going to be part of a peaceful, political future for Afghanistan….There is a path towards that. They can sit down with the Afghan government and begin negotiations and talks. We’ve encouraged that. We support an Afghan-owned, Afghan led process,” he said.
Mullah Akhtar Mansour, believed to be in his 50s was killed when a US drone fired on his vehicle in a southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. He had emerged as the successor to Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, whose 2013 death was only revealed last year.
Pakistan today summoned US ambassador David Hale to express concern over the drone strike.
(With inputs from agencies)