Munich Conference

The annual Munich Conference on Security which ended on Sunday, brought together political and security leaders from around the world. While Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani were scheduled to represent Pakistan at the important meeting, the foreign minister could not attend presumably because of the announcement of an impending cabinet reshuffle in Islamabad. It would have been embarrassing for Qureshi to be told during the Conference that he no more represented his country. But as things happened, the promised downsizing has not yet taken place. One wonders what justified stopping Qureshi from attending the important meeting. What has happened is that General Kayani had to hold bilateral talks with a number of important world leaders.The Munich Security Conference which was founded in 1962 has since developed into one of the most important gatherings of security experts and decision makers in the world. Afghanistan was high on the agenda of the meeting as the Karzai government is to start taking over security from foreign troops from March this year. This is bound to have important military and political implications as pointed out at the Conference by the Russian representative. For Pakistan the issue is all the more important, for whatever happens in the neighbouring country directly affects it. There was a need under the circumstances for the foreign minister to be present at the moot. While Gen Kayani has been associated with Pakistan’s Afghan policy both as a former ISI chief and the current COAS, he can speak only on the military aspect of the matter. The Security Conference on the other hand was to take up issues ranging from the regional security challenges to current unrest in Egypt and the security concerns of Europe.That the cabinet remains in a state of suspended animation is not good for the country. There is a need under the circumstances to take the necessary decisions urgently. Unless the new cabinet is in place, Pakistan’s major concerns are bound to suffer by default – PT