US Accused of 'Violating Pakistani Sovereignty' in Taliban Drone Strike

© AFP 2022This photograph taken on May 21, 2016 shows Pakistani local residents gathering around a destroyed vehicle hit by a drone strike in which Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was believed to be travelling in the remote town of Ahmad Wal in Balochistan, around 160 kilometres west of Quetta.
This photograph taken on May 21, 2016 shows Pakistani local residents gathering around a destroyed vehicle hit by a drone strike in which Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was believed to be travelling in the remote town of Ahmad Wal in Balochistan, around 160 kilometres west of Quetta. - Sputnik International
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Pakistan has accused the US of violating its sovereignty following a US drone strike that killed the leader of the Afghan Taliban in an area just inside Pakistan’s border.

US President Barack Obama confirmed Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the leader of the Afghan arm of the Taliban, had been killed in the strike, labelling the death "an important milestone" in the fight against the group. 

© REUTERSA car is seen on fire at the site of a drone strike believed to have killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar in southwest Pakistan in this still image taken from video, May 21, 2016.
A car is seen on fire at the site of a drone strike believed to have killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar in southwest Pakistan in this still image taken from video, May 21, 2016. - Sputnik International
A car is seen on fire at the site of a drone strike believed to have killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar in southwest Pakistan in this still image taken from video, May 21, 2016.

While Obama justified the US intervention, saying Mansour had "continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and coalition forces," the drone strike, which was conducted inside Pakistani territory, angered officials in Islamabad.

​"This is a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, claiming that Islamabad was not informed before the drone strike was carried out.

In fact, media reports have suggested Pakistani officials were informed after the drone strike had been carried out.

Concerns Over Taliban Splintering

While US officials were concerned Mansour’s leadership was pushing the Taliban closer to jihadist groups like al-Qaeda, there are fears his death could trigger further fracturing within the group, as rivals engage in a power struggle for control.

Pakistan has previously denounced US drone strikes on its territory, labelling them a breach of sovereignty, with the latest incident set to further strain relations between Washington and Islamabad.

​​Pakistan officials have long argued that the only way to end the conflict in Afghanistan was to negotiate with a united Taliban, with concerns Mansour's death could have a negative effect on the peace process.

The death comes amid stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with last month's deadly suicide bombing in Kabul leading Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to prioritize military solutions rather than negotiations.

While the Taliban are yet to make a public statement in reaction to the news, it's understood the group's leadership council have already met to choose a successor.

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