Taliban choosing successor to leader killed in U.S. drone strike
Four candidates are thought to be in the running to replace Hakimullah Mehsud. The favorite, Pakistani officials and militants said, is Khan Sayed.
The New York Times
LONDON — Pakistani Taliban commanders met Saturday to choose a successor to Hakimullah Mehsud, their leader who was killed Friday in a U.S. drone strike, as mainstream political leaders stepped up criticism of the United States.
Pakistani officials said the Taliban governing council gathered at a mosque in Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, and on Saturday, buried Mehsud and six others in Dande Derpa Khel, the village where they were killed.
Four candidates are thought to be in the running to replace Mehsud. The favorite, Pakistani officials and militants said, is Khan Sayed, a commander who had been a rival to Mehsud and was thought to have the support of powerful factions, including the Haqqani network. Speaking by phone, a Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, said a winner would be decided “within a few days.”
Senior ministers and opposition politicians united in condemning the drone strike, with some advocating that Pakistan should cut U.S. military supply lines into Afghanistan in response. The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said the U.S. ambassador had been summoned to protest the strike. “It is the murder of peace in this region,” he said.
If it seemed odd that some Pakistanis were equivocating over the death of a man who spent his career orchestrating attacks that killed thousands of Pakistanis, the answer came from a complex mix of politics and psychology.
Anti-Americanism is rife and the drones are widely despised, with the exception of some tribal regions where some tribesmen say they support any measure to oust militants.