Russia Today (RT) Published: Pakistan (announced) to boycott a key international meeting in Germany to discuss Afghanistan’s future. The measure follows in response to a recent NATO air strike the death toll of which ranges from 24 to 28 depending on the source.The decision was agreed at a meeting of the federal cabinet at the governor’s house on Tuesday evening.
The federal cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, strictly condemned the NATO air strikes, considering them as an attack on the “sovereignty of Pakistan”.
“This is hardly the first time Pakistani sovereignty has been infringed by the United States. This seems to be the case that the United States regards Pakistan as a free fire zone. Which it is at liberty to abuse the country’s sovereignty with no need for apology or address,” John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition told RT.
“This is an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty”
PM Yousuf Raza Gilani promised there would be no more business as usual with Washington.
Pakistan believes that the NATO attacks on border check-posts in Mohmand tribal area near the Afghan border were deliberate and were carried out in violation of coordination procedures.
“The positions of the posts were already conveyed to the ISAF through map references and it was impossible that they did not know these to be our posts,” Director General Military Operations (DG MO), Maj Gen Ishfaq Nadeem told reporters on Tuesday.
But the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the border killing of Pakistan soldiers was a “tragic incident,”and pledged an investigation “as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.”
However, the Pakistani government has demanded that the US vacate an airbase used for drone attacks and has closed a vital US military supply route to Afghanistan.
“One third to one half of all of supplies that go to NATO forces go through Pakistan. This is going to have a major impact. No question about it,” explained former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, talking to RT.
Previously, the prime minister has stated that Pakistan’s relations with the United States can only continue with mutual respect and mutual interest and must be based on trust, equality and mutual benefit.
Meanwhile, the US has urged Pakistan to reconsider its decision to boycott a conference on Afghanistan on December 5.
Commenting on the boycott, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the United States believes “it is very much in Pakistan’s interest to attend this meeting.”
“It’s in their interests, so we think it is important that they be there,” Toner told reporters. “Pakistan has a crucial role to play in supporting a secure and stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also called for the Pakistani Prime Minister to reconsider the boycott.
It was said in the official statement that Afghanistan regards “Pakistan as an important country and is “optimistic they will attend the Bonn conference.”
PM Gilani’s office issued a statement confirming that Karzai had asked the prime minister to reconsider, but said: “How could a country whose own sovereignty and territorial integrity was violated from Afghan soil play such a constructive role?”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also said that she was “very sorry” about Pakistan’s decision and that she would try to convince the country to send a delegation.
“We are both interested in constructive development of Afghanistan,” Merkel, who will open the Bonn meeting, she said at the joint press conference with the King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The biggest rift between the two countries came six months ago when the US violated Pakistan’s sovereignty to assassinate Osama Bin Laden.
Navy SEALs raided his compound keeping Pakistani intelligence in the dark about the operation, dealing a massive blow to the already-troubled relations.
Writer and journalist Barry Lando believes the rift between the two countries was caused by Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, which the US views as its prime enemy. “Pakistan has been interested in supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan” he said in an interview with RT “The Pakistanis are interested in the Taliban if and when the Taliban take over or have much more power in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis see them as allies in their ongoing struggles with India”.
Some experts believe America’s alliance with Pakistan has become less of a benefit and more of a liability.
“There are two clear choices for America today, historically speaking. Either to expand the war and come into Pakistan to open another front. It’s not going to be a joke. Pakistan can do things, in desperation, they can not even imagine. It can trigger a third world war and I am warning you. Second is that they decide to [get] out,” former Pakistani intelligence chief Hamid Gul told RT.
Attacking Pakistan “can trigger a third world war”
But Ahmed Quraishi, of the PakNationalist website, does not dramatize the issue quite as much. He told RT that the US can find alternative routes for its supply lines and that Pakistan does not get that much aid from America after all. In fact, he believes Pakistan incurred losses of over $50 billion in the 10-year period since the war began.
“But what they cannot replace is Pakistani cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan from the inside,” he told RT. “And there are many reasons for that of course: Pakistan is a neighbor of Afghanistan; we have close ties to many players of the Afghan political scene. And of course, we are host to the largest number of Afghans, refugees outside Afghanistan.”