Pak to boycott Afghan conference over NATO raids
Lahore: The government of Prime Minister Yusuf Raja Gilani on Tuesday decided to boycott an international conference on the future of Afghanistan to be held next week in retaliation to the NATO raids on its border posts that killed 24 soliders.
The decision in this regard was taken during an emergency meeting of Cabinet Ministers convened by Gilani to discuss Pakistan’s response to Saturday’s airstrike by NATO forces on border check posts.
The meeting of the Federal Cabinet was convened in Lahore amid reports of massive protests and growing anger across Pakistan over what officials here have called a “gruesome” attack.
The government took the decision after carefully weighing all options available to it which also includes lodging a formal complaint with the United Nations Security Council against the NATO action.
The pre-dawn multiple strikes by NATO gunships has sparked fresh tensions between Islamabad and Washington with Pakistan halting supplies to international forces based in Afghanistan and ordering the closure of a key air base allegedly being used by the US to operate drone predators.
Another official, who is privy to the decision likely to be taken at the cabinet meeting, said that since the Afghan war was sanctioned by the UNSC and any hot pursuit or surgical strikes inside Pakistan were not allowed, Islamabad believed the move would put “legal and moral” pressure on the US.
Last week an adviser to the Prime Minister told Parliament that Pakistan was collecting figures for casualties caused by US drones in the country’s tribal areas, with which Pakistan would approach a UN human rights panel.
Meanwhile, the US has named a top Air Force General to head the investigations into the NATO air strike on Pakistani border posts and has invited Pakistan and Afghanistan to join the probe.
Brigadier General Stephen Clark from US Central Command headquarters in Florida has been named to probe the last weekend's incident which has triggered a fury in Pakistan.
Announcing the appointment of the high-level probe, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General James Mattis said the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan would be invited to participate into the investigation.
The investigation team has also been directed to include input and participation from NATO-led International Assistance Security Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
US Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, said in a statement that the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan had been asked to join the probe to determine "what happened and preclude it from happening again."
Pakistan has charged that the air strike was unprovoked, while Afghan and Western officials say that Pakistani forces opened fire first.