BRICS addresses terrorism, but China-India may differ
BRICS, the bloc of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has finally named several terror groups, including those operating out of Pakistan, for posing a threat to the region at its summit in Xiamen, China on Monday.
But it is doubtful whether the five countries will stand united in acting against these terror groups.
Without naming Pakistan, the BRICS Xiamen Declaration has expressed concern over the violence unleashed by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operating from that country. It even compared LeT and JeM to the dreaded Islamic State (IS).
The declaration called for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere by terror groups like the Haqqani group, Islamic State (IS), Al Qaeda and Taliban. But will this apparent bonhomie and cooperation on terrorism last?
China has been an all-weather ally to Pakistan and in the past blocked the India-sponsored efforts at the UN to designate JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. On Monday, China parried questions on whether it will change its position on Azhar in the light of Xiamen declaration.
Days before the summit, China said it would be inappropriate for India to discuss the threat posed by Pakistani terror groups at Xiamen. But on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ignored the suggestion and emphatically called for a sustained war against terrorism and the majority of the delegates attending the summit supported him.
At the previous BRICS meet in Goa, Modi had described Pakistan as a “mother-ship” of terrorism and demanded action against terror groups operating from there.
The naming of terror groups LeT and JeM by BRICS comes barely two weeks after US President Donald Trump warned Pakistan over the “safe havens” provided by Islamabad to extremists. But chances of China supporting a UN move to ban Azhar seems remote.
The BRICS declaration comes hours before bilateral talks between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The talks are part of a big confidence building exercise a week after the 73-day military standoff between their armies ended at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction.
Both leaders are expected to discuss the standoff and resumption of border talks to avert similar situations in the future.
Tensions between the two Asia neighbors has escalated significantly, as Chinese military incursions in disputed areas and the recent spat between the two armies has dominated the bilateral relationship. With the US under Trump is turning inward, China and India are hoping to play a more decisive role in international affairs. Obviously, this leads lead to tensions between the New Delhi and Beijing on occasion. India has rejected China’s invitation to be part of its ambitious Belt Road Initiative (BRI) earlier this year and is also opposed to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India feels these projects will raise issue of sovereignty since they pass through areas claimed by India.
However, China could help India secure a permanent seat on the UN security council, in exchange for India softening its stand on the BRI. They are also stakeholders in the BRICS Bank, with an Indian banker heading it. There is cautious optimism with China agreeing to name Pakistan-based terror organizations in the joint statement, and perhaps a glimmer of hope of a significant partnership in the future.