Islamabad: Pakistan has decided to boycott
the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan next month in protest
against the cross-border NATO air strike that killed at least
24 of its soldiers, a move being seen as a "major setback" to
US-led efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.
The decision to boycott the crucial conference to be held
on December 5 to discuss ways to end the conflict in
Afghanistan was made during an emergency meeting of the
Defence Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Premier Yousuf
Raza Gilani, 'The News' daily reported today quoting its
Foreign Ministers of over 90 countries are likely to
attend the Bonn Conference that is expected to discuss key
issues like the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan
and negotiations with the Taliban.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had planned to meet
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on the sidelines of the
"Pakistan's absence from the conference would be a major
setback to the US-led efforts for bringing the Taliban to the
dialogue table," the report claimed.
During Saturday's meeting, Pakistan army chief Gen
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was "composed but firm about his
approach" while Gilani was in "utter anxiety and hardly could
control his emotions" over the NATO air strike on an army post
in the restive Mohmand tribal region, the report said. Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh reportedly opposed
the idea of taking "harsh action" in retaliation for the air
strike and asked the participants to make a fair assessment of
the consequences of the action being taken by Islamabad.
Foreign Minister Khar was among those who were "visibly
upset about the episode," the report said.
A statement issued after the meeting said the Pakistan
government had decided to close all NATO supply routes.
The government also asked the US to vacate the Shamsi
airbase, believed to be the main base for CIA-operated drones,
in 15 days.
The News report said Gilani referred to the resolution on
national security adopted at a joint sitting of Parliament
following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden and
suggested the government would again take up the matter in
Gilani is expected to make a decision in a day or two
about summoning another joint sitting of Parliament.
The meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet also
decided to strengthen air defences on the border with
Air surveillance would be enhanced so that the response
to any further incursion would be "effective", the report
First Published: Sunday, November 27, 2011, 16:46