THE second US-sponsored Summit for Democracy, which is currently underway, offers a small glimpse of the tough choices countries will have to make as America and the West step up their geopolitical confrontation against China, Russia and their allies. Though Pakistan was invited to the event, the country politely declined to attend, with the Foreign Office saying it would engage with the US bilaterally to discuss democratic values. It is largely assumed that Islamabad made the decision not to anger China and Turkiye, as neither state was invited to the conclave by Washington. Pakistan also did not attend the first edition of the event in 2021, when the PTI administration said it would engage with the US on democratic issues at an “opportune time”. China had hailed Pakistan’s earlier decision.
It is quite apparent that the event was organised less out of love for democracy, and more to make America’s geopolitical rivals look bad. It is puzzling why Turkiye was left out. While the country may have internal political issues, it is not for the US to anoint foreign states as democratic or otherwise. China, meanwhile, lambasted the US for organising the summit “in violation of the spirit of democracy”, and was incensed that Taiwan had been invited to the event. Unfortunately, America and other members of the Western club talk democracy when it suits them, yet have no qualms about dealing with authoritarian regimes when required. The fact is that the West has often played an unsavoury role in thwarting the evolution of democracy in the Global South. All states should have been invited to the summit so that a healthier global debate about democracy could have ensued. Once can understand Pakistan’s reasons for not attending — if based on a point of principle. At the same time, it could have used the platform to call for the inclusion of Turkiye so that the discussion about global democracy could have been a fuller one.
Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2023
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