Pakistan pulls out of US-led summit in potential move to woo China

Pakistan announced on Tuesday it would not participate in this week’s US-led democracy summit, a move seen in part as an effort by the impoverished Islamic nation to appease longtime ally China, which has not been guest.

The Biden administration has invited 120 global leaders to the summit to be held in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday. It will be co-hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement thanked the US and its co-guests for the invitation. Pakistan was also not part of the first and only other summit held in December 2021.


Pakistan is the fifth largest country in the world with a population of over 220 million. It has a functional democracy, although critics say Pakistan is among the worst democracies in the world.

“Pakistan would engage bilaterally with the United States and the co-hosts of the summit to promote and strengthen democratic principles and values ​​and work to advance human rights and fight against corruption,” the statement said.

Pakistan did not attend the 2021 summit due to growing tension between the government of then Prime Minister Imran Khan and the US administration of President Joe Biden. Relations between Washington and Khan were further strained when Khan visited Moscow in February 2022 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Two months later Khan, who had been prime minister for over 3 1/2 years, was ousted in a vote of no confidence in Parliament by an alliance of major political parties.

Since then, Khan has said the vote that removed him was a US-organized plot, a charge Washington and Khan’s successor Shahbaz Sharif have denied.

In Tuesday’s statement, the foreign ministry under Sharif said Pakistan values ​​its friendship with the United States. “Under this Biden administration, this relationship has expanded and broadened substantially. We remain committed to further solidifying this relationship for peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” he said.

Pakistan announced on Tuesday it would withdraw from a US-led summit to which longtime ally China has been disinvited.

Pakistan announced on Tuesday it would withdraw from a US-led summit to which longtime ally China has been disinvited. (Fox News)

The summit comes just days after a major international human rights group expressed concern over ongoing human rights abuses in Pakistan in its annual report. These include enforced disappearances, restrictions on peaceful gatherings and tightening of controls on free speech. Amnesty International said “blasphemy allegations continued to spark violence against both religious minorities and Muslims” in 2022.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, released a report at a press conference in Islamabad describing how the current government under Sharif is continuing the crackdown on Khan’s supporters that began with his ousting of April. He said hundreds of Khan’s supporters have been arrested in recent weeks.

Pakistani analyst Imtiaz Gull, executive director of the Islamabad-based Center for Security Research and Studies, said there were multiple factors behind Pakistan’s decision to skip the summit. One of these is Pakistan’s desire to appease the concerns of China, which was not invited.

While relations between the United States and China have been strained, China has helped Pakistan’s efforts to overcome its deepening economic crisis,

China has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan, much of it in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a vast package that includes everything from building roads and power plants to agriculture. It has an estimated cost of up to $75 billion. The largest component of the CPEC project is a 3,200-kilometre (2,000-mile) road linking China to Pakistan’s deep-water port of Gwadar in the southwest. Pakistan hopes the project will bring prosperity to this South Asian nation.

China also deposited much-needed millions into Pakistan’s central bank to boost its rapidly declining foreign exchange reserves to save Pakistan from default amid the worst economic crisis the country has ever seen.


Talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout have been on hold since last year. This annoyed Pakistan, which tried to get help from Washington to influence the IMF to lend Pakistan.

The Pakistani premier told parliament on Tuesday that the IMF wants external financing pledges made by several friendly countries to be met to get the $1.1 billion tranche of the $6 billion bailout. Sharif said he hoped the pledges made by friends of Pakistan would be kept.

Gull also noted the growing instability in Pakistan due to a growing crackdown on Khan and his political party as a factor in Pakistan’s withdrawal from the top.

“What is happening in Pakistan does not happen in democracies, where the country’s former premier Khan has been implicated in more than 127 cases, and hundreds of his party members have been arrested on a variety of charges, including terrorism” , he said.


“What would you present if you were to attend the Summit on Democracy and Democratic Values?” he said.


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