WASHINGTON: A day before an international conference on the Afghan endgame kicked off in the German city of Bonn, US President Barack Obama called up his Pakistani counterpart to offer condolences over the death of two dozen troops in Nato airstrikes that prompted Islamabad’s boycott of the crucial meeting.
A White House statement said Obama placed a call early Sunday to Asif Ali Zardari expressing his regrets over the “tragic loss” and promising a “full investigation” into the November 26 air raid on Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency.
Obama “made clear that this regrettable incident was not a deliberate attack on Pakistan and reiterated the United States’ strong commitment to a full investigation,” the statement said.
Islamabad has so far refused to take part in a US investigation into the November 26 air strikes on the Afghan border.
But the White House said Obama and Zardari nonetheless “reaffirmed their commitment to the US-Pakistan bilateral relationship, which is critical to the security of both nations, and they agreed to stay in close touch.”
In the wake of the strikes, Pakistan decided not to take part in the Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan that opens today (Monday), a decision which, together with the Taliban’s boycott, has cast the event’s usefulness into doubt.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the conference, expressed his disappointment that Pakistan was not attending.
The Taliban’s non-attendance risks making Bonn part of what Britain’s former ambassador to Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, called the “charade” of international conferences on Afghanistan, dogged by “diplomacy for diplomacy’s sake”.
Their participation seemed a possibility earlier in the year but all hopes were dashed after the assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was blamed on the Taliban.
“I’m not expecting a huge amount on reconciliation,” Britain’s Ambassador in Kabul William Patey said.
“I’m not expecting much other than an affirmation that the Afghan government, supported by the international community, stands ready to talk peace and reconciliation with the Taliban when and if they’re ready.”
The ‘original sin’
Some argue that decisions taken at the 2001 Bonn conference caused some of the problems facing the country today.
Britain’s former ambassador to Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles wrote this year in his memoirs that the conference had been “a victor’s peace from which the vanquished had been excluded.”
The ‘original sin’ was not to have the Taliban at Bonn, Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid quotes the former UN special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, as saying, in the book “Descent Into Chaos”.
“The tough work on resolving conflicts like these necessarily take place behind the scenes,” Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress think-tank, wrote last month.
Open meetings “are the least likely arenas to address some of the thorniest issues at the core of the conflict, including the role played by neighbours such as Pakistan and Iran and the diplomatic strategy for dealing with (the Taliban).”
(Read: An angry goodbye to Bonn)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2011.
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Whereas I feel that Pakistan deserves an apology on the NATO air raid, I think the following article best shows why Obama is reluctant in the light of domestic American politics:
"Tom Cruise has come to India to promote MI but wont come to Pakistan."
Maybe Pakistan should threaten to boycott another seminar if Tom Cruise does not come to Pakistan
Dear Uncle Obama
Your war. you go fight.
Let them try to resolve Afghanistan problems, rather their own problems without Pakistan.
it also very usefull action of pakistan that's not participating in bonn conferance
Pakistan would not want to be part of the investigation because then it's leaders would not be able to deny the conclusion. Plausible Deniability is the central theme of Pakistan's strategy
Mr. Obama! Too little too late. Do more, yes, you must do more. Condolences for deliberate murder and that too cold blooded, merciless murder. No thank you.
Mr. Obama! Do you really think you are the US President? You are an underling of the CIA, PENTAGON, MIC and the WHITE BUSINESSES. My commiserations to you.
Just remember that can be no reconciliation on Afghanistan unless the invaders withdraw unconditionally 'post haste.' Talking peace on Afghanistan in Bonn is a farce and a simile to throwing dust in a person's eyes.
Salams to South and central Asia minus NATO and ISAF
Mr president, Condolenses dont ussually work in any situation involving the loss of life.. People rairlly take them as heartfelt... A simple appology on behalf of the American people would go many more miles... It will help to heal wounds maybe not scars but it would be a better choice of words for diplomacies sake...
Enough is enough. These americans are treating us so cruelly. Apart from this one of the biggest news was that Tom Cruise has come to India to promote MI but wont come to Pakistan.This is another trick to humiliate us. And even Obama has become the first president after a long time not to visit Pakistan..
I just want to ask what they think of us. Pakistan is not US servant but an equal nation.
This is not about justice anymore. It is about egos. Pakistanis want the sole Super Power to bow down, get down on its knees and apologize and yield to a power, which can be at best called a Middle-level power, a power which depends on that Super Power for very survival.
This is clearly not going to happen. The extreme radicalism, the daily bombings, inept government, lack of Democracy, an overbearing Military are not going to disappear overnight if the US apologizes even before the report findings are out. This is just a massive PR and egoistic exercise. In fact, if this goes on for too long, its the Pakistanis who lose out by over playing their card.
Pakistan probably was left with no option but to send strong message to US, other international stakeholders and particularly to Mr. Karazai who is sincere to no one except himself . Pakistan must be accepted as partner in implementation of end-game. Pakistan has more stakes in Afghanistan than India and it should be recognized. After Bonn conference, there should be a brainstorming session amongst all stake holders in the region and they include Iran, Russia, CAR’s, India and China.
Nevertheless, Pakistan should also understand that solution to Afghan imbroglio is in its own interest. Delay would be very harmful to its prospects of stability and future development. Whole world is knocking at our door, if we tried to keep it shut for longer time, it will be like working against national interests. So not only policy of engagement along with all stake holders in the region is only option but it should also be handled objectively and swiftly. Sooner US and ISAF leave, better are the prospects.
How can he be sure that it was anything without a "full investigation"?