Pakistan and the Lisbon Summit

Leaders representing 28 allies, conducting NATO operations from Afghanistan to Kosovo and from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, met in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, on November 19 for a two-day summit to decide on the alliances war strategy in Afghanistan. The NATO summit was attended by US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a number of heads of state and high-ranking military officials. In addition to other issues, it focused on NATOs withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the handover of security responsibility to the Afghan forces. In this connection, NATOs top civilian representative in Afghanistan Marks Sedwill, while addressing a news conference, said: Pakistan army had made numerous sacrifices in the war on terror. The handover of Afghan security depends on the Pakistani army taking control of its border areas, adding peace in Afghanistan is linked to Pakistan. Despite this, it seems that no need was felt by the leaders of the NATO allies to invite either Pakistans political or military leadership to the summit. According to reports, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the heads of member states that the Lisbon Summit has three distinct stages. First, the allies will discuss and take decisions in respect of their own strategic goals and agree on a plan of missiles defence, which will frame the future of our alliance reaffirming the shared commitment by all the countries to the freedom and security of our citizens. But it is unfortunate that in spite of countless sacrifices by the only non-NATO ally (Pakistan) in the so-called global war on terror, it is perhaps mistrusted, and so its presence was not considered necessary. Pakistans role in the ongoing war is just confined to do more to facilitate the NATO forces exit from Afghanistan by 2014. Second, the 28 allies will be joined by Karzai and the other allies who make up the 48-strong coalition in Afghanistan. Clearly, Pakistan is not included in this group also; hence, no need for its participation in the second stage of the Lisbon agenda. Finally, the allied leaders will meet with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for the first NATO-Russia summit since 2002. Obviously, there is no 'reason for Pakistans presence in the NATO leaders meeting with the Russian President. Nor, have the alliance leaders, including the US President and Secretary of State, who keep pressurising Islamabad to do more and extend its military operations to North Waziristan and other areas along the Pak-Afghan border, considered it worthwhile to meet with the Pakistani civil and military leadership, so as to recognise or realise the sacrifices that our country has made to combat terrorism at the cost of its national security. Interestingly, while the alliance heads were gathered in Lisbon to discuss the war strategy in Afghanistan and ensure peace in South Asia, the Norwegian Parliament was in session at Oslo where Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store was discussing the core issue of Kashmir disturbing peace in the region. Mr Gahr maintained: The current uprising in Kashmir is indigenous and the protesting Kashmiris should not be met with bullets.International standard on human rights should be upheld by all, including India. Concluding the debate on Kashmir conflict, reportedly, he informed the House that his government was encouraging India and Pakistan to solve the Kashmir conflict through peaceful means as violence was no solution to their problems. Also, the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi has raised the issue of Kashmir with the Indian government at all levels, claimed the minister, adding that he had personally talked about the Kashmir dispute with the Indian leadership during his visits to the region. While the US President during his recent visit to New Delhi did not even mention Kashmir as a trouble spot in South Asia, the Chairman of Norwegian Parliamentary Kashmir Committee, Knut Arild Hareide, stated: Peace in Afghanistan is linked to the settlement of Kashmir issueunsolved Kashmir conflict was hampering the international communities efforts to curb terrorism worldwide. Many others, who participated in the debate on Kashmir in the House, expressed similar views. I wish the echoes of the Norwegian Parliament might have reached the white steel complex on the banks of the Tagus River protected by at least 7,000 security officers guarding the Lisbon Summit. The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum.


The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum.

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