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Biden invites Pakistan to virtual summit on democracy

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WASHINGTON:
Pakistan is among more than 100 countries that have been invited to a virtual summit on democracy in December, according to the US State Department.

India, often called “the world’s biggest democracy,” will also be present despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The global 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.

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 meeting was long advertised, but the guest list — published Tuesday on the State Department’s website — will be closely scrutinized.

Unsurprisingly, America’s main rivals China and Russia are not on it. Joe Biden has invited Taiwan – a move that sparked indignation from authoritarian China.

Taiwan thanked Biden for the invitation and said the gathering would be a rare opportunity for the self-ruled democracy to burnish its credentials on the world stage.

China said it “firmly opposed” the inclusion of an island it regards as “an inalienable part of Chinese territory”. Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory to be re-taken one day, by force if necessary.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by Biden, did not make the list.

The city-state of Singapore and Bangladesh – one of the world’s most populous democracies — did not make the list either.

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