The Big Picture- BRICS- Why Is the Common Ground Missing On Terrorism?
The 8th BRICS Summit in Goa recently concluded. The member countries have out with a 20 page declaration which lays a lot of stress on economic and financial aspects. Along with that there was also discussion on terrorism and ways to deal with it internationally as well as the cooperation among the member countries. Indian Prime Minister while addressing the Summit laid a lot of emphasis on cross border terrorism and attacks on India. He termed Pakistan as the mothership of terrorism. India was hoping to get the other member countries into naming and shaming Pakistan. However, the final declaration neither finds mention of Pakistan nor mention of attacks on Uri, Pathankot or Pampore.
The rhetorical built up suggested that there might be a big punch to Pakistan. This issue is quite sensitive and countries like China and Russia have a different approach towards Pakistan. This is a reality check for India. This type of approach to the crisis India is facing with Pakistan i.e. isolating it internationally is a road to nowhere. Everyone is engaging Pakistan. There is a need that India rethinks its strategy. These kinds of forums and partners should be looked upon by India to leverage them in influencing Pakistani policies. This might be a more productive way of doing it.
There is a general consensus that terrorism should be contained and post 2001, there has been issues related to Al Qaeda which has now morphed to Islamic State. This found reference in the Goa Declaration. China has indicated that it is not comfortable in going along with what India has been expecting. China has been enabling Pakistan in its nuclear and missile capability but Pakistan in turn has used this capability for last 25 years as a shield to engage in terrorism against India.
When it comes to terrorism, there is a need to understand that China, India and Russia have one common position i.e. Pakistan is becoming or on the verge of becoming a failing state and therefore, a possible exporter of terrorism. Different approach is being adopted by different countries now regarding Pakistan. For example: Chinese are worried about terrorism expanding towards the West and the Belt and the Road which is a focal area. They are trying to engage Pakistan. In order to contain Pakistan, Chinese are giving them economic package in terms of CPEC Corridor. However, the Indian approach is to isolate Pakistan which is diametrically opposite.
Lack of conclusive evidence against Pakistan responsible for Uri attacks is also giving it a certain advantage. In the international perception, there is a linkup between Kashmir issue and terrorism. No one wants to get involved in this issue as no third party mediation is allowed. Chinese President in Goa mentioned in his speech the need to have outside parties to take a view on these regional hotspots. American stand is also the same. Pakistan is also suffering the brunt of terrorism and these countries believe that terrorism is a regional phenomenon. From the Indian perspective it is being maintained that post 1972 and Shimla Agreement, India would deal with Kashmir issue bilaterally provided Pakistan stops supporting terrorism. India has to accept that there is a certain kind of political orientation that exists in the global community. Even in the SAARC Bangladesh and Sri Lanka made it very clear that they have their own reasons for being uncomfortable with Pakistan which are not congruent to what India has said in the first few days.
As far as other aspects are concerned, the intra BRICS trade is $ 290 billion approximately which needs to be expanded. Chinese have been suggesting of a free trade area among the BRICS countries which did not find mention in the Joint Declaration. However, there was some success in terms of NDB President’s Report and $911 million disbursement of the loans. The three MoUs are related directly with the economy. For example: Agricultural research platform, customs cooperation and railways. There was some disappointment on the credit rating surveillance system which has to be set up for looking at the macroeconomic heath of the BRICS countries once NDB start disbursing the loans.
BRICS is a terrific opportunity for India to showcase its leadership role both as an emerging power and as an aspiring member of UNSC and it has to optimally use such opportunities by emphasizing on issues like investment and energy. This was however not done this time. Though on trade and development issues, India has brought out something on the table. It’s a mixed bag for India.