Pakistan has announced its intention to boycott next month's Bonn II conference on the Afghan War. Can a conference about the future of Afghanistan survive the absence of its most important neighbor?
Supporters of Islamic organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa hold party flags and a placard during a demonstration against NATO cross-border attack in Lahore / Reuters
In the wake of a deadly U.S. attack on a Pakistani border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the Pakistani cabinet decided to pull out of the Bonn II conference. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will not attend to protest the attack.
Bonn II, scheduled to take place next month, is meant to be a meeting of the international community to help craft Afghanistan's future. It's being held almost exactly 10 years after the first Bonn conference, which took place in December 2001. In a way, it will be a meeting on the last ten years of the conflict: are the fundamental questions asked a decade ago any closer to being answered?
But the Bonn II conference has met with significant hurdles. Besides Pakistan, Afghanistan's largest neighbor, no one seems to know if Afghanistan's other major neighbor, Iran, will participate (I spoke with officials in the State Department, who would neither confirm nor deny Iran's attendance). U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker has told the Taliban they are not welcome to participate either, though German representatives have expressed interest in hosting some Taliban representatives. And Uzbekistan, which the U.S. is counting on as a transit corridor for its withdrawal plans, has been coy about its participation in any international conferences.