Pakistan indecisive on attending democracy summit

Diplomatic sources say certain issues are making it difficult for Islamabad to make final call

Kamran Yousaf December 07, 2021


Pakistani decision-makers are holding extensive consultations on whether to attend the virtual summit on democracy convened by US President Joe Biden this week, as certain issues are making it difficult for Islamabad to make the final call.

Official sources, however, said the decision would be announced soon. The Foreign Office is tight-lipped over the subject, while diplomatic sources have told The Express Tribune that the White House is still waiting for Pakistan’s official response to the invitation.

Biden is hosting the virtual summit on democracy on December 9 and 10 and has invited leaders from over 100 countries that also include Pakistan. From South Asia, only four countries have been invited – India, Pakistan, Nepal and Maldives.

The White House did not send invitations to China and Russia but extended the invitation to Taiwan, something that drew a strong reaction from Beijing.

The exclusion of China from the summit is believed to be one of the reasons delaying Pakistan’s decision, sources familiar with the development said.

However, the sources added, China did not object to Pakistan’s participation in the virtual summit. “There are certain issues that the government of Pakistan is currently looking at,” said a senior official, explaining the reason behind the delay in announcing the decision.

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The official did not drop any hint whether Pakistan would attend the summit or not.

It is stated that the White House asked invitees to confirm their participation or otherwise by last weekend. Pakistan was supposed to announce the decision last week but delayed it to give more time for in-house consultations.

Till Monday, according to diplomatic sources, Pakistan had not officially responded to the White House.

The proposals on the table include the level of participation at the democracy summit. Should the prime minister or a minister attend the summit is the question being debated by the decision-makers. This stems from the fact that President Biden has not yet spoken to the prime minister.

The relationship between Pakistan and the US is strained by differences over the Afghan situation. Some of the statements given by the prime minister after the Afghan Taliban takeover were not liked by the White House.

Pakistan is worried that the US, as happened in the past, may abandon the region. Despite its repeated calls for expanding cooperation with the US beyond security and Afghanistan, the US has not yet responded positively to Pakistan’s overtures.

Nevertheless, Islamabad is keen to maintain broad-based ties with Washington and is also trying to dispel the impression that it is completely joining the Chinese camp. It is, therefore, keen to attend the summit.

Another reason that is delaying the final call on the US invitation is reports that the US treasury will impose sanctions against people undermining democracy. Sanctions will also be imposed on those involved in serious human rights violations and corruption.

But a diplomatic source made it clear that non-participation in the summit does not mean that country would be facing any sanctions.


Zahid | 1 month ago | Reply

I think being among the only four countries invited from South Asia Pakistan should join.

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