The US, and its allies, are holding a virtual democracy summit that aims to assess the government’s legitimacy in countries across the globe. As of right now, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has not confirmed Pakistan’s presence at the gathering but this could be an opportunity to rekindle ties with the US. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan needs more allies on its side—especially in the face of all the obstacles it is facing—but this may not be the platform through which this is achieved. The Foreign Office (FO) still has time to make a decision but we are yet to see what benefits this meeting might have for us.
If Pakistan is to attend Washington’s democracy summit, it would have to do so without irking China. Considering that the US threw a curveball by inviting Taiwan, Pakistan’s attendance is likely to cause some level of annoyance. We run a high risk of alienating existing allies, including Turkiye which was excluded from the summit entirely. On top of all this, the US also invited India to the summit and considering that our relations have not been neutralised as of yet, there is little praise we might have for our neighbour which is engaged in practices that can hardly be called democratic. Keeping all these factors in mind, one can understand why the FO has refrained from making a decision. Our next steps must be careful, and well-informed and should fall in line with our overarching objectives of retaining the support we have and expanding it.
Pakistan is suffering through one of the worst economic crises that the country has ever seen. The summit could theoretically be an opportunity to win over the US and its allies and potentially unlock the IMF deal, but there is little hope that anything productive will be achieved in practical terms. Instead, we only run the risk of alienating =existing allies that have come to our aid time and again and have gone above and beyond to address our needs.