Islamabad: Amid accusation by Pakistan that America deliberately sabotaged peace talks by killing Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, the US on Sunday said the militant group has a "symbiotic relationship" with al Qaeda and acts like its force multiplier besides providing "safe haven" to terrorists.
The US Embassy here said it was "not in a position" to confirm whether Hakimullah was killed in a CIA drone strike on Friday in lawless North Waziristan tribal region.
"However, let us be clear that Hakimullah Mehsud is considered the commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the group that claimed responsibility for the failed bombing of Times Square in New York City on May 1, 2010.
"In addition TTP and al-Qaeda have a symbiotic relationship; TTP draws ideological guidance from al Qaeda, while al-Qaeda relies on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border," Sandeep Paul, Acting US Embassy Spokesperson, told a news agency.
This mutual cooperation gives TTP access to both Qaeda`s global terrorist network and the operational experience of its members, he said.
"Given the proximity of the two groups and the nature of their relationship, TTP is a force multiplier for Qaeda," he said.
Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar yesterday condemned the US strike as a "murder of peace in the region", saying a team of religious clerics was about to meet the TTP with a view to starting peace talks when Mehsud was killed.
"Brick by brick in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process by which we could bring peace to Pakistan and what have you (the US) done?" he said.
"You have scuttled it on the eve, 18 hours before a formal delegation of respected ulema (religious scholars) was to fly to Miranshah and hand over this formal invitation," he said yesterday.