Pakistan has declined an invitation to the US-hosted so-called “Summit for Democracy,” a conference that Russia and China have warned will create new rifts in the international community.
In a brief statement on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office turned down the invitation to the summit, which is slated to be held online on Thursday and Friday, without citing a reason. The decision came after days of in-house consultations.
“We are thankful to the US for inviting Pakistan for participation in the Summit for Democracy, being held virtually on 9-10 December 2021,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “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.”
The White House has invited leaders from over 100 countries. Pakistan was among the only four countries from South Asia that were invited to the summit, the others being India, Maldives, and Nepal.
The US President Joe Biden administration has not invited China and Russia, whereas the self-ruled island of Chinese Taipei was extended an invitation, a move that drew harsh condemnation from Beijing.
The rare Pakistani refusal came as relations between Pakistan and the US seem to be at an ebb, considering their differences in the so-called war against terrorism and a range of other issues, particularly the Taliban-led Afghanistan and Pakistan’s increasing strategic partnership with China.
Biden has not spoken to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan since he took control of the White House in January 2020. And the Pakistani leader told reporters in August that he was not “waiting” for Biden’s call.
Biden also did not invite Pakistan to a Leaders’ Summit on Climate back in March, despite the fact that Pakistan is among the top 10 countries hit by climate change in recent years.
On November 26, China and Russia jointly condemned the planned summit. In a joint op-ed in the National Interest, an American bimonthly published by the Center for the National Interest, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov and his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, censured the US for imposing its own interpretation of democracy on the international community and its invitation of like-minded allies to the so-called summit.
On Monday, the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China published a denunciation of the American interpretation of democracy in a 74-page report titled “Ten Questions for American Democracy.”