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Russia test: Will Pakistan attend the Ukraine peace summit?

Pakistan insists it has stayed neutral on Russia’s war on Ukraine. But it now faces a difficult choice.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Days before Switzerland hosts a global summit aimed at thrashing out a path towards peace in Ukraine, Pakistan is trapped in a quandary – should it attend?

Pakistan has maintained a neutral stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine, and many analysts believe that the country of 236 million people has far too much at stake – from Ukrainian weapons to Russian oil – to skip the conclave. But others caution that Pakistan’s decision might partly be influenced by China’s move to boycott the summit, which Russia, too, will not be attending. China is arguably Pakistan’s most important strategic partner today.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry confirmed last month that it received an invitation from Swiss authorities for the two-day summit in Lucerne, starting on June 15. Yet it is still to decide whether to participate. “Still under discussion,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told Al Jazeera via WhatsApp on Thursday.

More than 160 countries have been invited to participate in the summit, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested Switzerland to host. At least 90 countries have confirmed participation. But Moscow and Beijing will not be joining the meeting.

Tughral Yamin, a former military official and senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad (IPSI), said it was important for Pakistan to participate.

“Pakistan must attend the summit. It has stakes in the war. We have strong defence relations with Ukraine, whereas we are trying to build strong ties with Russia as well which can provide us oil, so attending this makes complete sense,” he told Al