In a major diplomatic gaffe, host Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to impress upon the leaders of the five-nation BRICS to isolate Pakistan as the “mother ship” of terrorism was rebuffed by China and “old friend” Russia’s response was anything but heartening. A curt statement issued on Monday in Beijing affirmed they stood by their all-weather friend in India’s neighbourhood despite Islamabad’s state sponsorship of terror.
The spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry Hua Chunying observed in Beijing “we oppose linking terrorism with any specific country or religion.” She said India and Pakistan were “all victims of terrorism” and that Islamabad had made a “great sacrifice to combat terrorism and this needs to be recognised by the international community.”
On his part the Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated at the Brics summit the need for “finding political solutions to the hot spots” in this region. Pakistan has virtually become an adjunct of China.
The single-issue focus reflects a failure on India’s part in forging a larger, more broad-based narrative to suit the gathering in picturesque Goa. Close on the heels of the lengthy Brics Declaration, the seven-nation BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) at its outreach also held in Goa endorsed India’s stand without naming Pakistan. It also said “there should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs”, a clear reference to Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.
The BIMSTEC 2016 Outcome Document was indeed a bright spot emphasising “its fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks but also hold accountable and take strong measures against states that encourage, finance and support terrorism.”
Barring India, the other four members of BRICS — China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa — are not affected by terrorism. Under the circumstances the Goa Declaration “made it clear New Delhi is talking about its neighbourhood”. The focus of BRICS is on becoming an economic power in the years to come. The new Brics bank called the New Development Bank disbursed its first loan of $ one billion.
Understandably the lengthy Goa Declaration was more about putting the global economy on an even keel so that developing countries enjoyed a level-playing field. It also deliberated on issues pertaining to peaceful uses of outer space and global governance of the Internet. India carried forward the BRICS tradition of inviting its neighbours.
In a calculated move to keep out Pakistan, New Delhi opted for BIMSTEC giving a go by to the Saarc grouping which has outlived its utility for all practical intents and purposes. It made no sense for the Brics Declaration to make any mention of the terrorist attack on an Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
The just concluded eighth Brics summit has made it compelling for the member states to make course corrections in keeping with the ever-changing geopolitical environment. The evolving position of each of the Brics member cannot be overlooked. The endeavour is to create an entirely new emerging market network by evolving an architecture of governance and economic interaction. This has become necessary as the one after WWII has failed to keep pace with the quick-paced changing environment and new realities. India has also had to alter its strategy in dealing with Pakistan using its territory as a staging ground for terrorists contrary to its assurances given to India in this regard.
The widespread anger in this country in the wake of Uri attack compelled the Modi government to undertake surgical strikes on September 29 at a “place and time of its choosing” obliterating seven launch pads of the terrorists within POK. Having called Pakistan’s bluff of a nuclear attack in case it was attacked by India, Islamabad has had to deny any such strikes taking place even though it was made public by the Army along with the Pakistan DGMO being duly informed over the hotline.
Two Brics members — Russia and China — are not in sync with India when it comes to Pakistan. On the other hand Russian President Vladimir Putin and Modi have reaffirmed their old friendship at their annual Summit before the two-day BRICS session. Russia strongly condemned the Uri attack and affirmed that India had every right to defend itself. New Delhi was upset that Russia had conducted military exercises with Pakistan and had lodged its protest. India has since concluded massive defence deals with Russia. Moscow is understandably getting closer to China and in turn to Pakistan as well because of India’s enlarging strategic relations with the United States.
Major powers and the international community is aware of Islamabad backing terrorists aimed at bleeding India for its humiliating defeat in the 1971 conflict leading to the creation of Bangladesh.
The significance of the leaders of BIMSTEC located in and around the Bay of Bengal including most South Asian nations along with Thailand and Myanmar cannot be undermined. It serves as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Progress on economic integration of Brics is under way even though a credit rating agency is nowhere near taking shape. The Goa Declaration has asked all nations to stop backing countries supporting terror, respect law and give primacy to the United Nations as the agency for global coordination. The Brics push for a multi-polar world with enlarged space for emerging economies has received an added push at the Goa summit.