Source: TOI on line.
LAHORE: Pakistan on Tuesday decided to boycott the upcoming crucial Bonn Conference on Afghanistan to protest a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 soldiers, ratcheting up tensions between Islamabad and Washington.
The decision to stay away from the important conference to be held in the German city on December 5 was taken at a three-hour special meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Governor House in Lahore on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
The cabinet endorsed the decision made by the defence committee of the cabinet following Saturday’s air strike to close all NATO supply routes and to ask the US to vacate Shamsi airbase, believed to be used by CIA-operated drones, within 15 days.
Pakistan has responded angrily to the attack by NATO aircraft on two military border posts, saying the air strike was launched without any provocation.
The Pakistan Army has said a total of 72 soldiers have died in NATO attacks over the past three years.
Gilani said on Monday that it would no longer be “business as usual” in Pakistan-US ties after the latest attack.
Gilani was quoted by TV news channels as telling Tuesday’s cabinet meeting that life is precious for everyone and the people of Pakistan want to live with honour and dignity.
At this “difficult juncture for national security”, the people will back the government in tackling security challenges, he reportedly said.