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    Islamabad boycotts key meeting in Germany

    ISLAMABAD/KABUL (PAN): Pakistan on Tuesday decided not to attend next week's conference on Afghanistan's future in Bonn in protest against an ISAF airstrike on a border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

    The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Lahore, the capital of southern Punjab province.

    Saturday's predawn airstrike, involving NATO helicopters, targeted two Pakistani security posts in the lawless Mohmand tribal region, killing 24 soldiers and injuring more than a dozen others.

    The incident dealt a major blow to the already strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the US and NATO headquarters in Brussels over the "unprovoked" attack.

    The Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations, through a letter, complained to the Security Council about the incident.

    On Tuesday, Pakistan formally announced its boycott of the Bonn conference, which is aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. A statement quoted Gilani as urging Pakistani people to cooperate with the government in coping with the aftermath of the raid.

    Meanwhile, political analysts said the decision on boycotting the event was against Pakistan's own interest.

    Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Awami National Partly president, Mukhtar Yusufzai, said though Pakistan wanted to put pressure on the international community, yet the decision could further isolate the country.

    Afghan political analyst and former diplomat in Pakistan, Ahmad Saeedi, said Pakistan wanted to pressurise the US by boycotting the conference.

    He believed Pakistan would attend the meeting at a lower level to weaken the delegates' decisions and avoid being forced by the international community into playing a role in Afghanistan's peace and stability.

    ma/mud



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