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Will Pakistan participate in the Ukraine peace summit?

Pakistan is facing a dilemma on whether to attend the upcoming global summit in Switzerland aimed at promoting peace in Ukraine.

Despite maintaining a neutral stance on Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, Pakistan is considering its participation due to its significant interests in the region, including defense relations with Ukraine and potential oil ties with Russia. The decision may also be influenced by China’s boycott of the summit, as China is a crucial strategic partner for Pakistan. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has received an invitation for the summit but is still deliberating on whether to attend.

Experts suggest that Pakistan should participate to have a voice in the peace process and signal its commitment to de-escalating the conflict without taking sides.

Pakistan has historically strong ties with Ukraine, having purchased weapons systems worth nearly $1.6 billion from the country. In recent years, Pakistan has also been strengthening relations with Russia, despite traditionally keeping its distance during the Cold War. The country’s delicate balancing act between Russia and Ukraine has drawn international attention, with reports suggesting Pakistan’s involvement in supplying artillery ammunition to Ukraine.

Pakistan denies these claims and emphasizes its neutrality in the conflict.

Despite Imran Khan’s removal from the prime minister’s position, Pakistani leaders have continued to engage in intense diplomatic efforts. Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has met with President Vladimir Putin twice in late 2022, and Pakistan signed a crude oil deal with Russia in April 2023.

Taimur Khan, a research associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, believes Pakistan can benefit from Russia’s pivot towards Asia amid strained relations with the West. However, he is skeptical about the outcomes of the peace summit due to Russia’s rejection of President Zelenskyy’s peace formula.

China has decided not to participate in the summit, citing the need for equal participation of all parties. Khan argues that Pakistan should not necessarily follow China’s decision and that its choice to attend or not attend the summit should not significantly impact its relations with the West.

Additionally, he believes that Pakistan’s decision regarding the summit is unlikely to have major economic repercussions, even as the country seeks assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

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