If correct, Mehsud's death is a good thing: US | world | Hindustan Times
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If correct, Mehsud's death is a good thing: US

Even as Islamabad was "pretty certain" that Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US missile attack, Washington declined to confirm his death, but said if correct it would undoubtedly make Pakistani people safer.

world Updated: Aug 08, 2009 10:51 IST

Even as Islamabad was "pretty certain" that Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US missile attack, Washington declined to confirm his death, but said if correct it would undoubtedly make Pakistani people safer.

"We have obviously seen reports - even by members of the Taliban - that Baitullah Mehsud is dead. We can't, with a hundred percent certainty, verify that," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday when asked about Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's remark that "It is pretty certain now that he is dead."

"What I will say is this: If the reports of Baitullah Mehsud's death are correct, there is no doubt that the Pakistani people are safer as a result of it," Gibbs said when asked what would Mehsud's death mean for the President Barack Obama's strategy of stabilising Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

"This is an individual whose title as a murderous thug was well-deserved. He is somebody who helped plan and execute the deaths of scores of individuals, innocent civilians ... through anything ranging from deadly suicide attacks to planning the assassination of (former premier)Benazir Bhutto," Wood said.

"So his demise is a good thing for the Pakistani people, he said suggesting it "demonstrates the amount of cooperation that you're seeing between our government and the government of Pakistan in stamping out the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations that would seek to destabilise the area."

At the State Department Spokesman Robert Wood too would not confirm Mehsud's death but said "Mehsud has been responsible for a number of atrocious terrorist attacks against people from around the world. And we will continue to work with other countries around the world to fight the scourge of terrorism."

Wood would not speculate about what it may or may not mean. "But again, this is a long-term struggle that we are in against violent extremism, and we're going to continue to try to confront that challenge as best we can with our partners around the world."