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ISLAMABAD: In a surprising development, Pakistan on Wednesday declined to participate in the Summit for Democracy called by United States President Joe Biden, however, expressed its readiness to engage on the subject with Washington at an “opportune” time in the future.

On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden will host the first of two summits for democracy, which will bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda “for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action”, according to the US State Department.

Pakistan as well as Indian have been invited to the Summit, which is seen as an effort by the Biden administration to balance its interests in the region.

However, without citing any reason, Pakistan decided to skip the Summit, which, according to diplomatic sources, could be a signal to President Biden, who has continued to ignore Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We are thankful to the United States for inviting Pakistan for participation in the Summit for Democracy, being held virtually on 9-10 December 2021,” Foreign Office said in a statement.

Pakistan to engage with US on subject of democracy at 'opportune time in future': FO

It added: “We value our partnership with the US which we wish to expand both bilaterally as well as in terms of regional and international cooperation. We remain in contact with the US on a range of issues and believe that we can engage on this subject at an opportune time in the future.”

Pakistan will, meanwhile, continue to support all efforts aimed towards strengthening dialogue, constructive engagement, and international cooperation for the advancement of our shared goals, it stated, adding that Pakistan is a large functional democracy with an independent judiciary, vibrant civil society, and a free media.

“We remain deeply committed to further deepening democracy, fighting corruption, and protecting and promoting human rights of all citizens,” the Foreign Office further stated.

In recent years, Pakistan has instituted wide-ranging reforms aimed at advancing these goals. These reforms have yielded positive results, the Foreign Office further stated in the statement.

Meanwhile, countries such as China and Russia have also not been invited, whereas, inviting Taiwan has especially angered Beijing, which claims the island as its part. Pakistan has time and again, expressed its support to the “One-China Policy”, including on its claim over Taiwan.

Leaders from over 100 countries have also been invited to participate in the summit.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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