The government found itself virtually besieged by requests to attend the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan and thus far it has been firm in refusing the USA, with the Prime Minister stating again last night, that the decision to boycott Bonn was final. The Prime Ministers in Karachi on Wednesday stated that Pakistan would not attend the Conference if it did not have credible assurances on its national sovereignty. This was sufficiently vague to suggest room for manipulation, which started with German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking Mr Gilani to attend. However, Pakistan-US relations have reached saturation point after the attack by Nato killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, as described by Information Minister Firdous Awan in a press conference in Lahore. Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was firm in her meeting with US Ambassador Cameron Munter, who tried to persuade her to ensure some Pakistani representation at the Conference, if only the Pakistani Ambassador to Germany. The urgency of this request indicates US interest in Pakistan lending it's weight to the Bonn Conference decisions which will ratify the Status of Forces Agreement allowing the USA to continue its presence there beyond 2014. Apart from gaining Pakistani approval, Nato might find it cannot switch so easily to the Russian supply route, because Russia is raising the question of European missile defence, which it sees as directed against it. Thus Nato will either have to address Pakistani or Russian concerns, both thus far unpalatable for it. The government must be careful that the USA does not spring ratification upon it at a later stage because though it is important to have Pakistan present at Bonn, even with its absence the USA would make efforts to get Pakistan to ratify. However, before taking any such step, the government must not only give credence to its own views, which see the national interest as under threat, but also keep in view the continuing anger of the Pakistani people, which manifested itself in protest marches round the country. The government should not think that the crisis will be over until it withdraws entirely from the USAs war on terror, which it should do very clearly and firmly, because so long as it remains alongside the USA in the hope of some aid or some role in the Afghan endgame, it will find itself subject to attacks such as those on the checkpost in Mohmand Agency. Perhaps most painful, for its efforts, it will not find any of its national objectives advanced, which it must use the present crisis to do.