Pakistan excuses itself from attending US Democracy Summit


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday chose to skip the US convened Democracy Summit taking place in Washington this week, saying that Pakistan would engage with the US on a bilateral basis to encourage democratic values.

The virtual summit has been co-sponsored by the US Department of State and USAID on the theme of ‘Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy’.

Perhaps major issues for Pakistan was that virtual summit was given a political colour as the US invited Taiwan to the summit violating its own commitment to the ‘One China’ policy. If this was not enough, tyhe US chose not to invite China and Turkiye to the summit.

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’s participation could potentially upset its all-weather friendship with China. Like the first democracy summit in 2021, both India and Pakistan were invited to the summit this time. India attended the last meeting and may do so this year as well. Pakistan had opted out of the first summit due to its same principled stance.

In a statement issued on Tuesday the Foreign Office said Pakistan values its friendship with the United States.

“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 statement said.

Responding to media queries regarding the invitation by the U.S. to attend the Second Summit for Democracy, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said Pakistan has not been part of the Summit process, which commenced in 2021 and required countries to make certain national commitments.

“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,” Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra said.

She said, “We are thankful to the United States and the co-host countries for inviting Pakistan to attend the Second Summit for Democracy being held on 29-30 March 2023.”

“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 spokesperson added.

“We value our friendship with the United States. Under this Biden Administration, this relationship has widened and expanded substantially,” she said.

The event will showcase the role of cities and subnational governments in the affirmation of democratic values and the renewal of democracy worldwide. From March 29-30, the US will co-host the second ‘Summit for Democracy’ with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Zambia.

The FO spokesperson said this month, the nation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Constitution which is the fountain of a democratic polity in Pakistan.__Pakistan Today