Bonn conference: How significant is Pakistan’s absence?

Published: November 30, 2011
Prime Minister Gilani chairing the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. PHOTO: APP

Prime Minister Gilani chairing the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. PHOTO: APP


Pakistan has already agreed to the draft of the Bonn conference, even though it is boycotting the key international gathering to be held in the German city from December 5.

However, Islamabad’s decision to stay away from the conference, which has been a year in the planning, is being seen as a setback to international efforts that seek to stabilise the war-torn country before Western forces pull out from Afghanistan by 2014.

A senior government official, who was supposed to be part of the Pakistani delegation at the conference, said Islamabad’s absence will only have a symbolic value. “We have already agreed to the draft of the Bonn conference,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. He maintained that Pakistan initially voiced concerns on certain points of the proposed draft but those reservations had been addressed.

Without going into details, the official pointed out that the government’s main area of concern was that the conference not be used as a forum to point fingers at Pakistan. “We have been assured that no such thing would be part of the final draft,” he said.

Conference not expected to yield major breakthroughs

Pakistan’s decision will also not be a major setback because few tangible results were expected at Bonn, despite the attendance of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other government ministers.

The conference was organised with the expectation that Washington and Kabul would have pinned down by then what their strategic relationship would look like after the departure of foreign combat troops, but talks on this have dragged on inconclusively.

Foreign ministry officials opposed boycott

Sources have said that senior foreign ministry officials were in favour of attending the Bonn conference. The officials were of the view that Pakistan must attend the conference at least at the ambassador-level, sources added.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was to lead the Pakistani delegation at the conference to be attended by 90 countries as well as representatives from the United Nations to finalise a roadmap for post-war Afghanistan. “We should have attended the conference and used it to convey our concerns on the Nato attacks,” said a foreign office official while speaking on condition of anonymity.

It is believed that the security establishment has pushed for the boycott after the inadequate response from the US over the Nato air raid. The decision to boycott the Bonn conference was originally taken in the emergency meeting of the cabinet committee of defence just hours after the Nato attack. However, the announcement was delayed for a couple of days in the hope that Washington might come up with a convincing response to pacify the anger.

(Read: Aftermath of NATO air strike)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • SaudiRules
    Nov 30, 2011 - 6:27AM

    Looks like Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is going to miss out on her free German shopping junket!


  • Proud Pakistani Pakthoon
    Nov 30, 2011 - 7:16AM

    We shouldn’t attend at all. Screw America.


  • Abdul Rauf khan
    Nov 30, 2011 - 8:00AM

    We are not yes sir for the USA all the time.we should take some more bold steps to get rid off this America,s own war of terrorism that has been long in Afganistan.This is a good start even it is late yet.


  • Nov 30, 2011 - 8:01AM

    @Proud Pakistani Pakthoon:

    The point is America is not alone in this. Its NATO.

    Besides, if they go out of Afghanistan completely in 2014 you can bet that they will sanction the daylights out of Pakistan.

    Remember, NATO countries and its allies form well more than 70% of World’s GDP. If they sanction Pakistan, well, lets just say that Pakistan will be the next North Korea.


  • TomTom
    Nov 30, 2011 - 8:43AM

    @Proud Pakistani Pakthoon:
    Who cares!


  • Shyam
    Nov 30, 2011 - 9:20AM

    Now if something goes against Pakistan in the Bonn conference, Pakistan cannot complain since it decided to sulk


  • Murtaza
    Nov 30, 2011 - 9:31AM

    @brute force

    you are correct about NATO countries but them constituting 70% of the worlds GDP im not sure about. S&P dropped credit ratings for major financial institutions and at the same time upgrading China s .

    We should not fear isolation from the west because we have China , Iran , Turkey and Russia by default . i think the assummption that we will become North Korea is far fetched and baseless.

    The Countries that make up NATO are themselves extremely strung out. Read the news mate


  • Err
    Nov 30, 2011 - 9:58AM

    @BruteForce and TomTom
    We have already been under sanctions several times before and we got through it just fine, if Cuba and Iran can get through it so can we. The real tragedy is that yes when 72 countries under ISAF flag cant fight a bunch of bandits, they should just shutup and leave and look for scapegoats. Just like Iraq did not accept the coalition forces, Afghanistan doesnt accept the reality. So please accept the reality and get out!


  • Straight Fire
    Nov 30, 2011 - 10:15AM

    Family members of dead US marines will definitely care …


  • Pinto
    Nov 30, 2011 - 10:25AM

    By the way who is pakistan ?


  • Sana
    Nov 30, 2011 - 1:26PM

    These conferences are useless. Our absence will mean nothing.


  • Nov 30, 2011 - 8:25PM


    US and Europe combined form more than 50% of World’s GDP. Add to the list South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada and India you will get the figure of around 60% to 70%.

    The top 20 Countries ranked as per GDP is listed in the above link. Only China is overtly friendly with Pakistan. The 2 Countries you mentioned are not even in the top 10!!!!

    Look at North Korea now. It is more friendly with China than any other Country. It too has nukes and Missiles, which are better than anything possessed by Pakistan. But, it also is counted among the most failed states.

    I can go on but I think this is enough for you. Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2011 - 8:29PM


    I am glad you feel that way, I really do.

    But, bravado doesn’t make up for the truth. With the World’s 70% of GDP against Pakistan, there is not much hope. Look at Pakistan now! It is not under any sanction, yet it has forex which will barely last a few weeks.

    Iran has a LOT of Oil, Pakistan doesn’t. If you want to be like Cuba, where even Mobile phones were introduced only recently, then go right ahead. I will catch the news of Pakistan from my 4G provider sometime in 2014.


  • Go blow
    Dec 1, 2011 - 10:10AM

    @Proud Pakistani Pakthoon:

    yea, and we should no longer be giving pakistan any money


  • against the war
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:04PM

    well main thing is that America and NATO is not GOD that if they will stop funding us so we will be a failed state, we have so many natural resources, we have coal, oil, gas, gold mines, fertile land,ports….etc what else do we need,and remember this also GOD helps those who helps themselves.


  • Babar F.
    Dec 2, 2011 - 10:03PM

    Ha ha! The conference was to set the road map for future of Afghanistan and U.S. strategic relationship in the areas. Did no one get the tone set by the U.S & Afghan by bombing Pak troops what the future Strategy and Road map will be like? Why do Pakistan has to attend when the conference is all ready to turn their guns at Pakistan just to seal the humiliation we face by helping them out in the first place. All troops must go home NOW, this was a sham from the day one. Pakistan got along due to the inherent Muslim nature of “feeling guilty” even when CIA & FBI are involved in all sorts of self-serving magic tricks around the globe 24/7/365.


  • alami musafir
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:42AM

    Pakistan’s absence has been described thus:

    “The Bonn meeting will seek to chart a course for Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal, but a boycott by Pakistan has dealt a stinging blow to hopes for a roadmap.”

    These remarks completely contradict the tone of the above article which seeks to belittle Pakistan’s importance. The precarious economic state of the West makes it likely that, given the opportunity, they will cut and run in Afghanistan (as they did after the Soviets were defeated), leaving Pakistan and Afghanistan to pick up the pieces.

    Pakistan must not oblige them. Not until they pay in advance for the postwar reconstruction and nation-building of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, in gold dust (much harder to counterfeit than tungsten cored fake gold bars). Currency is just coloured paper, very easy to debase. Around five thousand five hundred metric tons of gold (equivalent to 317 billion dollars) should cover it.

    Reconstruction contracts should be given to local firms, who can of course import machinery from the most competitive supplier. But emphasis should be on developing local expertise.

    The added advantage of this scheme is that it would kickstart the global economy as well as end the Afghan war permanently without endangering the West.

    So yes, Pakistan should boycott Bonn and all other Afghan meetings until the gold is delivered.Recommend

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