US and Pakistan are in touch on various topics and both sides can engage on this subject "at an opportune time in the future," says Islamabad.
Pakistan has decided not to attend a US-led "Summit for Democracy", saying Islamabad is in contact with Washington on multiple issues and "we can engage on this subject at an opportune time in the future."
"We remain in contact with the US on a range of issues and believe that we can engage on this subject at an opportune time in the future," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
"Pakistan will, meanwhile, continue to support all efforts aimed towards strengthening dialogue, constructive engagement, and international cooperation for the advancement of our shared goals," the statement added.
The "Summit for Democracy" is slated to be held virtually on December 9-10.
"Pakistan is a large functional democracy with an independent judiciary, vibrant civil society, and a free media," the statement said.
"We remain deeply committed to further deepening democracy, fighting corruption, and protecting, and promoting the human rights of all citizens. In recent years, Pakistan has instituted wide-ranging reforms aimed at advancing these goals. These reforms have yielded positive results."
"To be fair, this was a tough decision for Pakistan’s leadership, which genuinely wants to deepen its relationship with the United States while also safeguarding its strategic relationship with China," analyst Uzair Younus wrote in The Atlantic Council.
"The decision to skip the Summit for Democracy, however, is a mistake that undermines this goal and will make it that much harder for Islamabad to develop better ties with Washington."
Biden summons virtual 'Summit for Democracy', but is it genuinely democratic? pic.twitter.com/wrCrdjo0TD— TRT World (@trtworld) December 8, 2021
Differences in approach to issues
Pakistan's decision comes amid differences between the two allies over multiple issues including Afghanistan and Islamabad's strategic partnership with China in recent years.
Islamabad, which brokered the landmark 2020 Doha Peace Deal between the US and the Taliban, has been urging Washington to release Afghanistan's frozen assets to avert a looming "humanitarian crisis" in the country.
Despite close cooperation in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden has not spoken to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan since he took control of the White House in January 2020.
Khan told reporters in August that he was not really "waiting" for Biden's call.
In March, Biden did not invite Pakistan to a Leaders Summit on Climate though the South Asian country is among the top 10 countries hit by climate crisis in recent years.
Pakistan has also been seeking an active US role in bringing India, its ally, to the negotiation table over the seven-decade Kashmir dispute.
Biden has invited around 110 countries to a virtual summit, including major Western allies but also Iraq, India, and Pakistan.
Washington's main rivals China and Russia have not been invited.