Killing the leader of the Pakistani Taliban the day before talks between the Taliban and the Government of Pakistan were due to commence might not have been a sensible move. As leader of the Taliban HM was responsible for thousands of innocent lives being lost – most of them Muslims. In that sense his death might provide some individual justice although not much since the misguided fanatics in the Taliban believe that martyrdom consequent to death is a reward assigned even to those who kill their fellow country people – a reward that is more beneficial than life itself. Moreover, many in Pakistan saw his death as the death of a Muslim brother by an evil infidel America. This is a tough argument for me to accept given the way he has slaughtered his own people but that is how many Pakistanis apparently see it.
Mehsud will presumably be quickly replaced. Not killing him might have created some hope for progress in talks with the Taliban. Presumably not much hope would be generated here since the Taliban’s demands seem inflexible and designed to institute an more extremist Islamic state in Pakistan. One can never be certain of this given pessimistic assessment the propensity for the Taliban to posture in the media. But on balance the talks offered some hope while killing him offers even less since the armed struggle all definitely continue in this case with thousands more lives being lost.
The timing of the killing suggests that the US was trying to prevent the talks. Do they believe they can win this conflict? Would the talks have worsened what is a terrible situation?