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Friday, January 21 2022

Asia

Pakistan to skip democracy summit convened by Biden

Islamabad: Pakistan has decided to skip the summit on democracy to be convened by US President Joe Biden on Thursday December 9 and Friday December 10, The Express Tribune reported.

The Biden administration has invited leaders from over 100 countries and Pakistan was among the four South Asian nations besides India, Maldives and Nepal to receive an invite.

China and Russia were excluded, while Taiwan was extended an invitation, drawing a strong reaction from Beijing.

Islamabad’s move is seen as a clear snub to the White House that could entail serious implications for the already strained relations between the two countries, The Express Tribune report said.

It is understood that multiple factors have played their part as is obvious from the fact that it took Pakistan days of consultations before finally deciding not to attend the summit.

Initially, Pakistan was thought to be part of Biden’s initiative at the ministerial level but it decided to skip the summit altogether because of a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons includes the exclusion of China from the summit. The overall state of relations between the two countries is another major factor, compelling Islamabad to stay away from the summit, the report said.

It is believed that President Biden’s move to continue to ignore Prime Minister Imran Khan also made it difficult for Islamabad to attend the summit on democracy.

President Biden is yet to speak to the Prime Minister directly since taking over the White House earlier this year. But his invitation to Pakistan was seen as ice breaker.

It was not clear if China had anything to do with Pakistan’s decision, but official sources confirmed that Islamabad did consult Beijing on the issue, the report said.

The move by Pakistan to stay away from the summit indicates the nature of current relations between Islamabad and Washington.

During last month’s briefing to the lawmakers on Afghanistan, it was informed that the ties between Pakistan and the US were at the lowest ebb.

Pakistan also fears that the US may resort to some punitive action as the Treasury Department announced ahead of the summit that Washington would impose sanctions on people undermining democracy and also penalise countries having poor human rights record.

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