Over the weekend continued disputes on the Kunar border led to the accidental deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in their military outpost and Pakistan’s boycott of the Bonn conference. This was not the first of such accidents involving NATO or the United States near Kunar (Afghanistan), which borders Pakistan. Past incidents include a disputed military action in 2008 where Pakistan claimed that 11 soldiers were killed in a bombing attempt aimed at Taliban insurgents.
This is an area rife with conflict. Accidents commonly occur due to the lack of available intelligence and the difficulty of surveillance in the mountainous region. It is occupied by both the Pakistan and Afghan military, but it is also a common spot for Al Qaeda, Haqqani and Hezbi groups to travel between borders. As one Afghan analyst stated, it is “the perfect storm” for the disputes and military accidents to occur. This complicated structure leading to accidents has increasingly led to issues between NATO, the U.S., Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
These continued attacks have led to Pakistan’s boycott of the Bonn conference and could potentially lead to problems with the withdrawal of American troops from Pakistan beginning next year. At this time, Pakistan is claiming that the NATO attacks were unprovoked and that NATO’s claims that this was a response to defend troops under fire are untrue. As a result, Pakistan is protesting the upcoming Bonn Conference and Pakistan’s participation seems unlikely at this time.
However, while Pakistan is currently boycotting the Bonn conference and its leaders are reluctant to attend the Bonn conference, Afghan officials and NATO are urging Pakistan to reconsider. The Bonn conference is meant to help facilitate and eliminate conflicts such as this. Afghanistan and other nations are hopeful that Pakistan will reconsider the boycott. However, at this time it appears that Pakistan will not be involved in the Bonn Conference.