Bonn Conference Tries to Make Progress Without Pakistan
In the days leading up to today’s Afghanistan conference in Bonn, Germany, that hopes to chart out a stable path for the war-torn country, there wasn’t much hope for progress. In fact the German press was downright negative. The AFP reported that German daily Die Welt wrote, “The entire future engagement of the international community is based on the hope that the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban will progress, and Pakistan is the key to this process.” The Financial Times Deutschland was quoted as reporting, ”The Bonn conference is turning into a farce…If Pakistan’s cancellation is maintained, then the conference will be virtually pointless on many issues.”
People on Twitter seemed to agree and added other cynical points, clearly coloured by the backdrop of a grim global economy. “How much did it cost to get everyone to
#Bonn2. Will anyone benefit as much as the haulers and hoteliers? #CommitAtBonn,” asked @jeromestarkey, a journalist and photographer via the microblogging site.
Still, the US maintained a brave face. The AFP reported the following:
“I don’t think it (the boycott) will impact the conclusions of the conference in any way,” a senior State Department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity during the flight to Bonn from Washington on Sunday.
Of course, if the major goal of the conference is to push forward negotiations with the Taliban, the key players at the conference may need a small miracle. According to Al-Jazeera (see video below) Taliban intermediaries, including the Taliban’s ex-foreign minister as well as the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, are in Europe but have yet to show up at the conference, allegedly asked to stay away by Pakistan. The report provides more support to the claim that Pakistan not only has strong links to the Taliban but has major control of the top leadership. And even further confirming that Pakistan is not interested in a peaceful political solution.
But Bonn is not only about ending the fighting and providing an exit strategy for NATO. It is also about governance and democracy. Human rights, ensuring recent gender gains are not lost in any political compromises and implementing a viable, long-term economic plan are all issues being discussed in Germany. Everyone wants peace, but none of the above issues will be guaranteed if the fighting stops.
Click play to watch the news video from Al-Jazeera:
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