The Nato Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has threatened Pakistan with missing out on important talks on the future of Afghanistan that are due to take place at the Chicago Summit on May 20-21, if it failed to lift the ban on the transit of Nato supplies through its territory across to Afghanistan before that date. As if to tempt Pakistan to join other countries, Central Asian States and Russia, in the conference, which were allowing these goods to pass through, he told a news conference at Brussels on Friday that they were all being invited, along with 60 others. The summit is supposed to ‘map out a future for Afghanistan after most of the foreign combat troops are withdrawn at the end of 2014’. Islamabad’s participation at any high-level, serious get-together organised to debate and chalk out future for its long beleaguered neighbour would, indeed, be absolutely necessary; for its interests are intrinsically linked with Afghanistan’s. The commonness of ethnic composition, the free movement across the border and familial ties are some of the bonds that geography has knit between them.

However, before rushing to conclude that Pakistan must, therefore, restore the transit facility to avert the consequences of Mr Rasmussen’s ultimatum, we should examine the prospects of the summiteers’ decisions to hold in the post-2014 scenario. The conference is being held under the American umbrella, with the participation of Nato countries, their allies on the ground in Afghanistan and some neighbouring states. From Afghanistan itself attends the US protégé regime whose representative character could be judged from the fact, acknowledged by American analysts, that its authority does not extend beyond the capital Kabul. The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) this unpopular and weak entity has signed with the US is one of the main items on the summit’s agenda, that the American influence would make sure is carried. The SPA stipulates the continued stationing of ‘non-combat’ US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 that could be called out for help in case the local security forces failed to put down an insurgent move by local elements. As this would be anathema to the Afghans who would fight to the last to get rid of any foreign force on their land, the peace that the summit would deceive themselves with would not come about; there is no point in being party to that concourse or, for that matter, succumbing to Mr Rasmussen’s threat, while the US is not ready to apologise for the Salala tragedy and stop the drone onslaught.

When Pakistan demands an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned settlement of the country, it is arguing for an agreement of representative Afghans with the foreign occupying forces; not a deal concluded over and above their heads, signed by hand-picked foreign puppets. It is only that settlement which holds the prospects of ensuring peace in the country that would serve Pakistan’s interests. The SPA deal is a recipe for unremitting instability, neither helping the cause of the US, nor Afghans, nor Pakistan, nor of the region. Pakistan would do well to stay away from the summit, and take this opportunity to get out of the war on terror.