Pakistan engages on charm offensive after absence from US summit

The action is taken because Islamabad “desires” close cooperation with Washington

ISLAMABAD: Days after declining to attend the US conference on democracy, Islamabad has contacted Washington in an attempt to explain its decision.

According to the sources, Pakistan covertly spoke with US officials to explain the decision’s rationale.

The US ambassador was sitting close to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as he held an Iftar for the diplomatic community on Thursday. According to sources, Pakistan clearly wants to maintain its connections with the US.

The US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said that Pakistan’s absence from the second “Summit for Democracy” “does not change Washington’s willingness to continue working with Islamabad,” suggesting that the Pakistani strategy seemed to have been successful.

Patel expressed sorrow over Pakistan’s decision not to attend the democracy conference at a news briefing. Pakistan is “a sovereign state” and “can make decisions for itself,” he pointed out.

He said that the US and Pakistan collaborated on a variety of problems and that Washington and Islamabad would continue to discuss matters pertaining to democracy and human rights. He also noted that the two countries had a “important security partnership.”

Pakistan was invited to the Friday-ending summit. Islamabad chose to skip the occasion, nevertheless. The foreign office made an effort to divert attention from the real cause of their absence from the meeting.

In a statement, it was said, “We are grateful to the United States and the co-host countries for inviting Pakistan to participate in the Second Summit for Democracy being held on March 29-30.”

“We treasure our ties with America. This connection has significantly broadened and developed under the Biden Administration. In order to promote regional peace, stability, and development, we are still committed to further reinforcing this connection.

According to the statement, Pakistan has not participated in the Summit process, which started in 2021 and called on nations to make specific national pledges.

According to the statement, “The Summit process is now at an advanced stage and 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.”

The real reason Pakistan did not attend the summit, contrary to the foreign office’s official stance, was China.

Pakistan’s choice was hampered by the fact that Taiwan attended the meeting while China and Turkey were not invited by the US.

Due to China’s absence, Islamabad opted out of the first US democracy summit in December 2021. Pakistan did not attend the conference either because President Biden avoided the then-prime minister Imran Khan.

The administration was forced to abstain since Imran was only required to submit a taped video message for the meeting.

Beijing had applauded Islamabad’s action, supporting the notion that Pakistan had made the choice at China’s urging.

There has been an apparent effort by Pakistan and the US to reestablish their relations since the change of administration in April of last year. Similar to Pakistan, which is urgently seeking an IMF bailout, the US might play a key role.

Pakistan must avoid offending China, however, since their assistance would be crucial if there is no IMF agreement.

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