Islamabad has decided that it will not take part in the democracy summit taking place in Washington this week, opting instead to engage with the US on a bilateral basis to encourage democratic values, reported Dawn.
The virtual summit, led by the United States, started on Tuesday.
The issue of Pakistan’s participation in the Second Summit for Democracy in the US had been under discussion for some time, particularly because it could potentially upset its “all-weather friend” China.
Turkey and China have not been invited to the summit, as reported by Dawn.
The decision had been difficult because Pakistan had to weigh the benefits of participation against the potential risks to its diplomatic relationships.
China will closely monitor these proposals as the United States has already irked Beijing by inviting Taiwan, China’s longstanding archrival.
Like the first democracy summit in 2021, both India and Pakistan were invited to the summit this year.
India took part in the last meeting and is expected to do so this time as well. Pakistan had opted out of the first summit, reportedly on the back of the Biden administration’s refusal to reach out to the then-prime minister Imran Khan, reported Dawn.
Beijing would want Pakistan to bail out of the ‘controversial’ moot but doing so will send negative signs to the United States at a time when Islamabad wants Washington to be on its side to help ink a deal with the IMF.
According to the report published in Dawn, the decision to keep Turkiye out of the summit was another reason for concern in Pakistan. The Foreign Office, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said Pakistan values its friendship with the United States.
The statement said, “Under the Biden Administration, this relationship has widened and expanded substantially. We remain committed to further solidifying this relationship for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.”
The Foreign Office, while explaining the logic for not taking part in the summit, said that Pakistan had not been a part of the summit process that began in 2021 and needed the countries to make certain national promises.
Pakistan said, “The Summit process is now at an advanced stage and therefore, Pakistan would engage bilaterally with the United States and co-hosts of the Summit to promote and strengthen democratic principles and values and work towards advancing human rights and the fight against corruption.”
The Foreign Office, however, thanked the US and the co-host countries for inviting Pakistan to attend the summit.
The FO added, “As a vibrant democracy, the people of Pakistan are deeply committed to democratic values and generations of Pakistanis time after time have upheld their faith in democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The FO also highlighted that the country was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Constitution which is the foundation of a democratic polity in Pakistan.
Notably, the US Department of State and USAID are co-sponsoring the summit on the theme of ‘Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy.’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will take part in most of the events. Blinken will chair a virtual panel session on “A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine” featuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A document released by the US State Department read, “While democracy requires more than credible elections, they shape public perception of democracy’s efficacy and are vital for expressing the will of the people.”
The document added, “The integrity of a country’s elections – in other words, the degree to which they conform to international standards – is important for a government’s legitimacy and domestic and international support,” Dawn reported.