Biden snubs Pakistan
US President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders including his Russian and Chinese counterparts to a virtual climate change summit next month. However, the US president conveniently excluded Pakistan from the list of invitees, raising questions about the government’s relationship with the Biden administration.
The move has certainly taken analysts by surprise whether Pakistan’s omission was some kind of bias by the new US administration or whether a vital issue such as climate change has become a victim of political expediency. It has become evident that Pakistan has lost its importance in Washington after it cozied up to China. What criteria the US followed is anyone’s guess as Pakistan is vulnerable to climate change and has played a significant and globally acclaimed role against it.
Many other and much smaller countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and tiny Pacific island nations have been invited. Biden has also invited China and Russia despite the animosity as climate change is one area they could work together. Yet, many Pakistanis have expressed surprise at Pakistan’s exclusion, as it is the ten largest country in the world and fifth-most vulnerable to climate change.
Climate change has remained one of the key focus of the PTI government. The prime minister initiated the Billion Tree Tsunami project for environment protection and several other measures. These have been acknowledged by the World Economic Forum and UN agencies. The Foreign Office has stated that Pakistan is one of the lowest carbon emitter and hence was not invited. However, many other countries who are low emitters have been invited, implying that being a close partner to US is a major criteria to qualify for the invite.
The summit is taking place at a time when US has rejoined the Paris Agreement. It aims to underscore the urgency and economic benefits of stronger climate action as the countries invited are responsible for 80 percent of carbon emissions. However, Pakistan’s presence at the climate change would have shown commitment to play its due role and contribute meaningfully.
Pakistan’s exclusion has raised doubts on the government’s relationship with Biden. PM Imran Khan is one of the few leaders who has not held any direct contact with Biden yet. The US remains a country Pakistan cannot stay away from despite the Chinese hegemony. This indicates that a lot needs to be done to rebuild the strategic relationship between the two countries.