KABUL had been invited to participate.
The first Bonn Conference, held soon after the ouster of the Taliban regime, had been imposed on the country, he recalled. As a result of that meeting, a puppet government was set up in Kabul, Zaeef recalled.
He insisted the conferees’ approval of the Karzai-led transitional authority and the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections was a mistake.
“The Afghan delegation may represent a majority of Afghans, but not the whole country,” the ex-ambassador said in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News.
One of the major obstacles to Taliban’s participation was that the conference was chaired by the Afghan government, which the insurgents did not recognise as a legitimate authority, he remarked.
Another hurdle was the absence of Taliban’s address, according to Zaeef, who said the impediments should have been removed prior to the meeting.
The gathering, being attended by representatives from more than 115 countries and international organisations, was opened by President Hamid Karzai and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 9am (German time).
Global political, economic and military assistance to Afghanistan beyond 2014, security transition, strategic cooperation, regional cooperation and the reconciliation process are high on the agenda for the major meeting.
Zaeef said: “The result will become known with the passage of time. In my opinion, this conference was a renewal of the 2001 Bonn talk.,”
Hailing from the Panjwayee district of southern Kandahar province, the former diplomat said he would have taken part if he had been given the opportunity to speak his mind on the current state of affairs in the country.
“Participation in conferences which take decisions of national importance needs courage and patience. Since I don’t represent any party, I can’t participate,” he remarked. “I also received calls for participation under the government. I rejected the calls because I don’t want to be influenced by the government or any other organisation.”
About Pakistan’s boycott, he said, the neighbouring country could play a crucial role in bringing peace to Afghanistan. Its absence was a setback that could have a negative impact on its strategic ties to the US, he felt.
On November 29 Islamabad announced it would not attend the important meeting in Germany as a mark of protest over ISAF airstrikes on border checkpoints that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The attack dealt a serious blow to the already strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Subsequently, Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the US and the NATO headquarters in Brussels over the “unprovoked” attack.