Conflict & Justice

NATO-Pakistan: Islamabad boycotts Afghanistan talks to protest deadly air strike


Pakistani protestors burn a portrait of President Barack Obama and a US flag during a demonstration in Peshawar on November 29, 2011, held to protest a NATO strike on Pakistan troops.


Hasham Ahmed

Pakistan will boycott an international conference on Afghanistan next week, according to officials, as a protest against a NATO air strike last weekend in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed.

The decision came after a cabinet meeting in Lahore Tuesday, the BBC reported.

A government official told Reuters that Islamabad had decided not to send its foreign minister to next week's conference in Bonn, Germany, on the future of Afghanistan.

More from GlobalPost: Pakistan denies provoking NATO strike

Pakistan has already complained to the Afghan government about the use of its territory by coalition forces to launch attacks on Pakistan, reported Pakistan Today, and asked Kabul to ensure that it does not happen again.

The December 5 talks were supposed to bring together all major stakeholders to discuss how best to secure peace in Afghanistan once NATO troops withdraw at the end of 2014, Al Jazeera said.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington wanted Pakistan to be part of the meeting:

"We hope that they do in fact attend this conference because this is a conference that is about Afghanistan and building a more stable and prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan. And so that is very much in the interests of Pakistan."

Tense relations between Washington and Islamabad are proving a serious complication in Washington's efforts to pull out of Afghanistan, according to the Wall Street Journal:

The absence [at the Bonn talks] of Pakistan—which has for years played a major role in Afghanistan's internal affairs, including helping to set up the Taliban in the 1990s, and is key to a settlement there— is a major blow to the U.S.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who chaired Tuesday's cabinet meeting, has also called a joint session of both houses of parliament to discuss the situation, local newspaper the Nation reported

Life is precious and Pakistan wants to live with honor and dignity, the Times of India quoted him as saying.

More from GlobalPost: Pakistan orders review of relations with US after deadliest NATO air strike

In response to what Gilani called a "grave infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty," Islamabad closed the main border crossing for supply vehicles heading toward NATO forces in Afghanistan and ordered the US to vacate a local military base following the air strike.

NATO has apologized for what it described as a "tragic unintended incident," and promised to launch a full investigation.

Washington said there would also be a separate US inquiry, which is expected to present its initial findings by December 23.

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