ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to attend a key summit convened by the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) in the United States where world leaders will discuss the endgame in the war-torn Afghanistan.
“Nato had extended a formal invitation to Islamabad early last year when the summit’s schedule was finalised,” a Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.
Nearly 50 heads of state and government will attend the summit which will be held on May 20 and 21 in Chicago.
Islamabad had boycotted the December 2011 conference in the German city of Bonn in protest at a deadly Nato air raid on its border posts that killed two dozen troops.
But Pakistan will not skip the Chicago conclave.
“It is, however, yet to be decided as to who should represent Pakistan at the summit,” said the official. “Ideally, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani should attend the summit.”
The Chicago summit will principally focus on three crucial issues: Nato’s commitment to Afghanistan through transition and beyond; ensuring that the alliance has the capabilities it needs to defend its population and territory and to deal with the challenges of the 21st century; and strengthening the alliance’s network of partners across the globe.
Nato has already announced its commitment to supporting Afghanistan beyond 2014 when foreign troops withdraw from the country and Afghan forces take over the security responsibility. Pakistan is seen as key to a stable Afghanistan beyond 2014.
“It goes without saying that we need positive engagement of Pakistan if we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region. And my bottom-line is very clear: We need a strong partnership with Pakistan,” Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had told a news conference on September 30, last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.