BRICS soft on terror
The five emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, Chi and South Africa (BRICS) together account for over half the world’s population and more than a quarter of its GDP. Back in 2001, Goldman Sachs alyst Jim O’Neill had forecast that Brazil, Russia, India and Chi would grow rapidly and provide huge investment opportunities in the 21st century. The four tions did come together in 2009 and invited South Africa to the grouping two years later. But it is clear that BRICS as an entity still does not see itself as a vehicle to overturn the present system of global governce. Even if it is unhappy with the world order and craves for a bigger role, BRICS is still far from creating an ‘altertive fincial architecture’ that gives equal opportunities to developing economies. This much is clear from the recently concluded eighth BRICS summit at Goa, where the joint declaration adopted called for a fair and equitable intertiol order based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, through reform of the UN itself and Security Council. The Goa Declaration has also called for a ‘strong, quota based and adequately resourced’ Intertiol Monetary Fund (IMF). More specifically, BRICS leaders agreed to work on setting up a credit rating agency, trade in local currency that can bring down trading costs by an estimated 6 percent and cooperate to prevent tax evasion by sharing information. They have expressed satisfaction at the working of the New Development Bank (NDB), the $100 billion lending platform set up to fince infrastructure projects in BRICS and other developing countries, as well as the $100 billion Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) currency pool aimed to cushion BRICS economies from global fincial pressures. But it is a fact that trade within BRICS is barely 5 percent of their trade with the rest of the world, which puts in perspective Prime Minister rendra Modi’s call to double intra-BRICS trade to 500 billion dollars by 2020. This apart, only India and Chi are growing fast in the grouping; Russia is battling recession in the oil market and Western sanctions while South Africa and Brazil are stuck with near zero to negative growth rates.
On the security front, the Goa Declaration condemned the ‘recent attacks against some BRICS countries’ and agreed to work more closely in combating terror both at bilateral level and at intertiol fora. But this is where India’s diplomatic moves to isolate Pakistan is perceived to have hit a wall put up by not just Chi, but Russia too. The outcome is that the joint declaration med only the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda front Jabhat al-Nusra, while calling for action against all UN-desigted terror outfits. But there was no mention of Pak supported Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) which have been major thorns in the flesh for India. Observers believe that Russia and Chi maged to impose their security concerns in the joint declaration, with Russia fighting the IS in the Syrian theatre and Chi keeping a wary eye on IS and al-Qaeda inroads among its restive Uighur province. For both these powers, Pakistan is a frontline state against jihadist upsurge that can roil their Muslim populations. This is the same reason why the US, despite supporting India’s surgical strikes in PoK, keeps pulling strings to maintain balance with Pakistan for its Afghanistan operations. Islamabad is therefore making diplomatic capital of its murky military-jihadist nexus which the three major powers keep accessing as it suits their strategic interests. So even as Pakistan keeps employing its irregular army against India with impunity, New Delhi’s protest is not registering strongly with the major powers and BRICS happens to be the latest example. Prime Minister Modi may have termed Pakistan the ‘mothership of terror’ in his BRICS address, only for Beijing to rebut with praise for Pakistan ‘making great sacrifices in fighting terrorism”. The only positive thing going for India is that it has made its right to self-defence, through surgical strikes and counter-terror operations if necessary — loud and clear to the world community. So long as it quietly projects its strengths, applies relentless pressure and plays hard realpolitik to keep furthering its interests, it will get other tions to play ball. A Pak fixation persisted with loudly will only tie down this country with diminishing returns.