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Pakistan to Boycott Conference on Afghanistan Future

According to Afghan security officials, their commandos were engaged with U.S. Special Operations troops in a nighttime raid against suspected Taliban insurgents when they came under cross-border fire and called in an airstrike. – Afghans say commando unit was attacked before airstrike was called on Pakistan

Watching the reaction of the Pakistanis after the NATO bombing incident that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, it was hard not to wonder if this would escalate further. It just did.

Calling the event a “tragedy,” Pres. Obama did not offer an apology, mainly because the events that played out are being contested.

From Foreign Policy’s daily brief today:

Pakistan’s government announced Monday that it will not participate in an upcoming conference in Bonn, Germany on Afghanistan’s future, in protest to this weekend’s bombing of two border posts in Mohmand by NATO forces that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers (BBC, Tel, AP, Reuters, ET, AFP). The decision came during a meeting of Pakistan’s cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who promised in an interview with CNN Monday that there would be no more, “business as usual” with the United States following the raid (CNN, Reuters, ET, AFP/Dawn). In a briefing Tuesday Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem called the incident a “deliberate act of aggression” by the United States, and said Pakistan was still deciding if they will cooperate with an American probe of the attack, whose results are due to be released December 23 (AP, Dawn).

Pakistan and the United States continue to dispute the events surrounding the bombing, as U.S. and Afghan officials describe a joint commando patrol near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that came under attack from positions near or even inside the Pakistani army posts, while Pakistan has said the assault continued long after Pakistani forces identified themselves to NATO (Post, NYT, ET, BBC, AP, WSJ). President Barack Obama and other American leaders have called the incident a “tragedy” but refused to apologize (AFP/ET, Tel). The Pentagon said Monday that it would “carry on” in Afghanistan without supplies from Pakistan, which has closed its border to U.S. supplies, and Pakistan reportedly refused a request by the United Arab Emirates to review its decision to evict American personnel from the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, which the Emirates are believed to control (AFP, ET, Dawn, AFP).

Pakistan is sending a chilling message that in the short term is saying they’re pulling out of any regional involvement on what happens with Afghanistan. Since Pres. Carter signed off on funding efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there hasn’t been a development like this that I can remember.

A nuclear power in this region, with an unstable domestic landscape to boot, is not a positive prospect to consider.

Osama bin Laden picking Pakistan to hide away seems to have been foreshadowing and the result of the U.S. never quite understanding what we were dealing with in this country going all the way back to Ronald Reagan.

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