Scant Unity over Terror
The summit of the Brazil-Russia-India-Chi-South Africa (BRICS) grouping held at Beulim in Goa did list terrorist activities of the Islamic State and the Jabhat al Nusra (an affiliate of al Qaida in Syria) in its joint declaration, but not Pakistan and its terrorist outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. This reluctance to identify and me the foremost brewer and exporter of terrorism is indeed unfortute considering that there was no such reluctance in the case of the Islamic State and the Jabhat al sra even though their activities in actually exporting terrorism is perhaps only slightly more spectacular than what Pakistan and the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been doing. What must come as a disappointment to India is that Prime Minister Modi made concerted efforts to identify and describe Pakistan as the “mothership” of terrorism without actually ming the country. [In fact, in its latest avatar as a single word, mothership is a new coige that must have amused some of the BRICS partners.] In his concluding remarks, Prime Minister Modi even listed unity over the challenge posed by terrorism as the first among gains from the summit in Goa. “The most serious direct threat to our economic disparity is terrorism—tragically, its mothership is a country in India’s neighbourhood,” he said in his first statement on Sunday following up with further references to Pakistan in subsequent speeches. What is intriguing though not entirely unexpected is the lack of any inclition among other partners of BRICS to even seem to be supporting India’s stance vis-à-vis Pakistan’s role in exporting terrorism. What does not entirely surprise anyone about the stance of the remaining partners of BRICS is that BRICS was created in the hope that it would focus largely on the economic issues of the emerging economic powers of the world and on enhancing intra-BRICS trade. Obviously, the four other partners of BRICS expected the Goa summit to concentrate mainly on common economic issues. While some of the BRICS partners like Chi did refer to terrorism as a major challenge, others like Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention terrorism even once during remarks at the plery session. But both on Sunday and Monday, Chinese President Xi Jimping made concerted attempts to inject streaks of dissent into the kind of unimity that Modi was trying to build on the issue of terrorism. On Sunday Xi said, “It is imperative that we step up coordition and communication on major intertiol issues and regiol hotspots and act in concert to find political solutions to hotspot issues and take on such global challenges like tural disasters, climate change, infectious diseases and terrorism.” He gave the clear impression that he was not willing to treat terrorism as a greatest threat than climate change or infectious diseases. “While speaking with one voice, we should also address issues on the ground with concrete efforts and multipronged approach that addresses both symptoms and root causes,” he added. It is interesting that Xi’s references to a “political solution” and “root causes” in the context of terrorism should echo the argument of Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute. On Monday, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying took Xi’s stance of refusing to refer to Pakistan’s role in exporting terrorism several steps forward by actually defending Pakistan. She began by saying that Chi was opposed to linking any country to terrorism. Answering a question on Modi’s criticism of Islamabad in aiding and abetting terror groups opposed to India, she said, “On counter-terrorism, Chi’s position is consistent... It is the same way we oppose linking any specific country or religion... We oppose terrorism in all forms and we believe that intertiol concerted efforts are needed to ensure stability and security of all countries.” Claiming that India and Pakistan are “all victims of terrorism,” she said Islamabad had made “great sacrifice to contain terrorism and this needs to be recognized by the intertiol community.”
It is not difficult to understand the equations that make it far more useful for Chi to be defending Pakistan even on the issue of terrorism. One is that Chi sees India as a potential competitor in economic activity, whereas there is not even any remote threat about similar competition from a country like Pakistan. But perhaps the more important reason is that Islamabad has permitted Chi to construct a major four-lane highway through Pakistan to provide access to the Arabian Sea for Chi’s exports. What is somewhat amusing, however, is Chi’s claim of not wanting to link terrorism with any specific country or religion. The double standards are all too apparent. While it is opposed to linking terrorism with Pakistan, it has no such opposition to linking terrorism with the Islamic State or the Jabhat al Nusra of Syria. Besides, what is likely to confuse most people is Hua Chunying’s reference to “the great sacrifice to contain terrorism” that Islamabad has made. One can hardly recall any occasion when Islamabad has made any sacrifice, great or small, to contain terrorism. One can recall numerous instances of Islamabad exporting terrorism to different cities of India. Why have all these unprovoked terrorist attacks that have taken a large number of lives of innocent people been so completely forgotten by the BRICS partners when several tions of the world have condemned Pakistan’s recent attacks on India? There is need for greater honesty and respect for both facts and history while making claims to defend a political stance that defies any ratiol defence. The partners of BRICS cannot afford to acquire the image of a partisan organization of five emerging economies. Besides, what are partners for if one cannot count on their support in times of crisis? It would not be surprising if the present stance of the BRICS partners raised the usefuless of India remaining a partner of BRICS.