Pakistani decision makers are holding extensive consultations on whether to attend the virtual summit on democracy convened by US President Joe Biden this week, as certain issues are making it difficult for Islamabad to make the final call, The Express Tribune reported.
The exclusion of China from the summit is believed to be one of the reasons delaying Pakistan’s decision, the newspaper report quoted sources familiar with the development as saying.
However, the sources added that China did not object to Pakistan’s participation in the virtual summit.
“There are certain issues that the government of Pakistan is currently looking at,” said a senior official, explaining the reason behind the delay in announcing the decision.
Biden will hold his virtual summit on Thursday and Friday. He has invited leaders from over 100 countries, including the South Asian nations of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Maldives.
The White House did not send invitations to China and Russia but extended one to Taiwan, which drew a strong reaction from Beijing.
It is stated that the White House asked invitees to confirm their participation or otherwise by last weekend. Pakistan was supposed to announce the decision last week but delayed it to give more time for in-house consultations.
Till Monday, according to diplomatic sources, Pakistan had not officially responded to the White House.
The proposals on the table include the level of participation at the democracy summit. Should the prime minister or a minister attend the summit is the question being debated by the decision-makers. This stems from the fact that President Biden has not yet spoken to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Express Tribune report said.
The relationship between Pakistan and the US is strained by differences over the Afghan situation. Some of the statements given by Khan after the Taliban takeover were not liked by the White House
Another reason that is delaying the final call on the US invitation is reports that the US Treasury will impose sanctions against people undermining democracy. Sanctions will also be imposed on those involved in serious human rights violations and corruption.
But a diplomatic source made it clear that non-participation in the summit does not mean that country would be facing any sanctions, the report said.
(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.firstname.lastname@example.org)