Pakistan to skip US Summit for Democracy


March 29, 2023


Pakistan to skip US Summit for Democracy

President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, for the opening of the first Summit for Democracy/File Photo: AP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has declined to attend the second Summit for Democracy, hosted this week by the United States, saying it would instead engage bilaterally with Washington on democracy.

The Biden administration has invited 120 countries, civil society groups and technology companies to attend the summit on Wednesday, with Costa Rica, South Korea, Zambia, and the Netherlands co-hosting.

A Foreign Ministry statement in Islamabad thanked Washington for the invitation but did not specify any reasons for skipping the event. However, critics attributed the exclusion of longtime ally China from the event as a likely reason for Pakistan to opt out, as it did when Biden hosted the first summit in December 2021.

Islamabad does not want to upset its “all-weather friend” Beijing, Pakistani English-language Dawn newspaper reported. Turkey, which maintains close ties with Pakistan, also has not been invited to this week’s gathering in Washington.

“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 toward advancing human rights and the fight against corruption,” the statement said.

It stressed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government values Pakistan’s friendship with the United States.

“Under this Biden administration, this relationship has widened and expanded substantially, the statement said.