Pakistan declines US democracy summit invitation

Pakistan declined Tuesday an invitation to participate in a Washington-led democracy summit, in an apparent indication of displeasure.

“We value our partnership with the U.S. which we wish to expand both bilaterally as well as in terms of regional and international cooperation. We remain in contact with the U.S. on a range of issues and believe that we can engage on this subject at an opportune time in the future,” said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

“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 added.

The “Summit for Democracy” is slated to be held virtually on Dec. 9 – 10.

The rare refusal came amid differences between the two allies in the so-called war against terrorism on a myriad of issues, mainly Afghanistan and Pakistan’s growing strategic partnership with China in recent years.

Pakistan, which brokered the landmark 2020 Doha Peace Deal between the US and the Taliban, has been urging Washington to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets to avert a looming “humanitarian crisis” in the country.

US has attached the release of $9 billion in assets that it froze soon after the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August, with the new regime’s progress vis-a-vis human rights, especially its treatment of women.

Despite close cooperation in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden has not spoken to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan since he took control of the White House in January 2020.

Khan told reporters in August that he was not really “waiting” for Biden’s call.

His remarks came days after Pakistani National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said Islamabad had “other options” if Biden continued to ignore Pakistani leadership.

In March, Biden did not invite Pakistan to a Leaders Summit on Climate though the South Asian country is among the top 10 countries hit by climate change in recent years.

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