Pakistan to engage with US on democracy at ‘opportune time in future’: FO
Pakistan to engage with US on democracy at ‘opportune time in future’: FO

The Foreign Office (FO) said on Wednesday that Pakistan was in contact with the United States on a range of issues, adding that Islamabad believed it could engage on the subject of democracy "at an opportune time in the future".

US President Joe Biden has invited around 110 countries, including major Western allies but also Iraq, India and Pakistan, to a virtual summit on democracy that is being held on Dec 9-10.

In a statement, FO spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad thanked the US for inviting Pakistan to the summit, adding that Pakistan valued its "partnership with the US which we wish to expand both bilaterally as well as in terms of regional and international cooperation".

The statement said Pakistan was "in contact with the US on a range of issues and believes that we can engage on this subject at an opportune time in the future", without further elaborating on whether Pakistan would attend the summit or not.

"Pakistan is a large functional democracy with an independent judiciary, vibrant civil society, and a free media. We remain deeply committed to further deepening democracy, fighting corruption, and protecting and promoting human rights of all citizens," the FO spokesperson said.

He stated that Pakistan in recent years had introduced reforms aimed at advancing these goals which had yielded positive results.

"Pakistan will, meanwhile, continue to support all efforts aimed towards strengthening dialogue, constructive engagement, and international cooperation for the advancement of our shared goals," he said.

The “Summit for Democracy” will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.

The conference was a campaign pledge by the US president, who has placed the struggle between democracies and “autocratic governments” at the heart of his foreign policy.

China, the United States' principal rival, is not invited, while Taiwan is — a move that risks angering Beijing. Turkey, which like America is a member of Nato, is also missing from the list of participants.

Among the countries of the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq will take place in the online conference. Traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are not invited.

Biden invited Brazil even though its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised as having an authoritarian bent and was a firm supporter of former US president Donald Trump.

In Europe, Poland was invited to the summit despite persistent tension with the European Union over its human rights record. Hungary, led by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was not invited.

In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the countries on the list.

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