Nato Attack: Pakistan decides to boycott Bonn Conference
30 November, 2011
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday decided to boycott a key international conference on Afghanistan next month, widening its protest over lethal cross-border NATO strikes and exacerbating a deep crisis in US ties.
Pakistan's decision comes in the aftermath of Saturday's well-calculated Nato air attack on two mapped out military posts near the Afghan border, which resulted in 26 soldiers being killed and 13 others injured.
The initial decision to boycott the Bonn Conference came up during the Defence Committee of Cabinet meeting but was finalised at the special cabinet meeting held in Lahore on Tuesday. "The cabinet reaffirmed Pakistan's support for stability and peace in Afghanistan and the importance of an Afghan led and owned process of reconciliation.
It expressed the hope that the international community will reaffirm its support for peace and development in Afghanistan at the forthcoming Bonn Conference. Pakistan looks forward to the success of this conference, but in view of the developments and prevailing circumstances, it has decided not to participate in the conference," the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
Apart from Makhdoom Amin Fahim, all federal ministers, including Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Law, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Syed Naveed Qamar, Manzoor Wattoo, Dr Asim Hussain, Samina Ghurki and members from allied parties including Pervaiz Elahi, Babar Ghori attended the meeting.
The meeting, which started at 11:30am, continued for nearly three hours with the one-point agenda of deciding the future course of relations with the US in the wake of recent strikes in Mohmand Agency.
Sources said Foreign Minister Khar briefed the participants about the current status of the relationship with the US as well as the attacks by Nato/Isaf on the country's territory, which the cabinet termed a clear violation of the UN charter.
At the very outset of the meeting, 'Fateha' was offered by the participants for the soldiers who were martyred during the Nato strikes in Mohmand Agency. Sources said the prime minister started his address with an Urdu couplet saying 'Zindagi itni bhi ghaneemat nahee jiss kay liey, ahl'e kam zarf ki har baat gawara kar lain,' stressing that there would be no compromise on Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity nor on the nation's resolve to safeguard its frontiers, no matter what the cost.
Taking cabinet into confidence on the decisions of the DCC, he was also quoted as saying it was time to take some important decisions. "We have to do as per the aspirations of our people, keeping in view the national interests," he said.
The cabinet meeting endorsed the decision of the DCC to review Pakistan's cooperation with the US and Nato/Isaf. Similarly, sources said MQM's Dr Farooq Sattar suggested that a joint meeting of military and political leadership should be convened keeping in view the gravity of situation so that a loud and clear message of unity could be conveyed to the global community.
He was also quoted as saying the famous verse of Faiz: 'Jis dhaj say koi maqtal may gaya, woh shaan salamat rehtee hay' and asserted that unity was the need of hour.
In March this year Pakistan had also pulled out of a trilateral meeting with Afghanistan and US scheduled to be held in Brussels after a deadly US drone attack, which killed dozens of tribal elders.
European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton also stopped short of apologising but offered her condolences for the deaths, saying: "We underline the EU's commitment to continue its engagement with Pakistan in pursuit of the shared goals of promoting peace, security and prosperity. Pakistan is a vital partner in the region and has an essential role to play in the resolution of the Afghan conflict."
Interestingly Pakistan's nearest neighbour, Afghanistan, appears to have got permission to condole with Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani and extended condolence over the deaths of soldiers in a Nato airstrike.
Meanwhile, the cabinet called upon the international community to take due cognisance of such attacks which constitute a violation of the UN Charter and international law and could have serious repercussions for regional peace and security.
APP adds: France on Tuesday said it would lend full support to the swift completion of an inquiry by International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) to determine the facts of the Mohmand Agency incident.
In a daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, said: "We call for continued cooperation between the Pakistani government and Nato forces engaged in the stabilisation of Afghanistan".
The spokesman extended condolences to the bereaved families of Pakistani soldiers killed in the Nato attack. "Following the tragic and regrettable events that led to the death of at least 26 Pakistani soldiers during the night of November 25 to 26, we extend our condolences to the bereaved families," he said.
He said the cooperation with Nato was vital for peace in Afghanistan and in the common interest. "We reaffirm our support to the Pakistani government in its fight against Taliban insurgency and terrorism in all its forms," he added.