Xiamen BRICS Summit: Triumph for Indian Diplomacy -By Mehmood Hussain
The 9th BRICS summit was concluded on September 4, 2017 in Xiamen, China. The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) group was formed in 2006 to deepen cooperation in economic sphere and laud efforts to transform international governance system.
In December 2010, China chaired BRIC summit and invited South Africa to join group of emerging economies, which gave birth to BRICS acronym. So far, 9 summits has been concluded and recent was held in Xiamen, China.
Xiamen summit is extremely important for Pakistan and its relations with its all-weather friend China. It is widely acknowledged that two nations have maintained close friendship and cordiality since past six decades, and China always come forward to support Pakistan in crucial times. Collaboration in military-nuclear arenas and concerted efforts to combat terrorism are well documented and recognized. However recent summit declaration caused mutilation to close strategic partnership between two friends. India has won its long awaited war with concerted efforts and energies to include Pakistan based terrorist organizations.
The BRICS members “expressed concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir”. The statement said, we “condemn all forms of terrorism and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. We affirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable”. Moreover group members reaffirm solidarity and resolve to combat terrorism and call upon all nations to adopt comprehensive approach to fight against terrorism.
The inclusion of Pakistan-based terror groups in summit document indicated a shift in the Chinese view towards terror groups operating out of Pakistan. During the last BRICS summit in Goa, China rebuffed Indian efforts to include Pakistan based terror groups in declaration, despite India provided evidences to China about involvement of Pakistan led terrorist groups in various terrorist attacks ensued in India.  Here a thoughtful question has appeared that, Why China agreed to include Pakistan-based terrorist groups in summit declaration?
There are three possible factors influence in China’s shift towards India and Pakistan-based terror outfits.
First, Doklam standoff has played significant role in China’s shift to deal its South Asian competitor. After more than two and half months tense standoff between Indian Army and the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) on Himalayan territory, Doklam standoff has come to an end. On August 28, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India and Foreign Ministry of China issued statements that both countries had reached a disengagement agreement. The standoff escalated in June this year, when PLA started to extend road infrastructure in Dolam, which is part of Doklam region, a disputed territory between Bhutan and China. Indian troops interdicted the PLA to extend a road southward towards Jampheri Ridge, which is strategically important for the Indian army. India claimed that Chinese road construction will seriously hamper Indian security settings in the area, and opposed to unilateral changes in the status quo in the region by China. Since then, two armies were standing face to face and threat of war between two nuclear states was looming on surface.
The Doklam standoff was a test case for both India and China to show off power and resistance, as well as peaceful channels to diffuse tensions. From the very first day, China stressed India to withdraw its troops unilaterally before settling dispute diplomatically, however India displayed no sign to withdraw its forces until successful agreement of disengagement. Even though escalation on border, both countries continued diplomatic channels to resolve the issue and finally reached an agreement to disengage troops. But these two months long standoff provided an opportunity to India to check its resistance power against its large rival in Asia. India successfully tested its military muscle against China and recognized that it has capacity to resist against Chinese aggression. Whereas, China has admitted that right time has not come to involve in conflict with India and 21st century India is not alike 1962 India. Contemporary India is nuclear power with large conventional army and have close strategic partnership with the U.S and Japan which are strategic rivals of China in Asia Pacific. The fear of mutual destruction in case of nuclear war deter China to further escalate the conflict. Thus, China admitted that peaceful relations with its larger and antagonistic neighbor are necessity of time.
Secondly, India has successfully projected its diplomatic power around the world and employed various diplomatic tactics including; aggressive diplomacy towards its weak neighboring countries, and shuttle diplomacy towards other developed countries to garner support for India. It diplomatic crew bridged close working relationship with newly elected President Doland Trump administration in the U.S. Therefore existing close Indo-U.S relationship transformed into new strategic partnership with announcement of President Trump to grant greater role to India in Afghanistan. His speech indicated, that India has invested heavily in the U.S. to gain support for its future endeavors, and its fruits reflected by tougher approach towards Pakistan adopted by the U.S. president. Moreover, since assuming Premiership, Premier Narendra Modi paid several state visits to European countries and concluded billions of dollar agreements in economic and military arenas which amplified profile of the country.
A brighter example of Indian diplomatic triumph can be found in the UNSC by presenting joint resolution by India and the U.S. to designate Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jammad-ud-Dawa as international terrorist outfits. Meanwhile, another joint proposal was put forward by the U.S, UK and France on January 19, 2017 to declare Molana Masood Azhar as terrorist. Previously by using veto power, China blocked all Indian bids and employed a technical hold on UNSC resolutions. However, Xiamen Summit declaration exposed flaws in Chinese diplomacy against Indian systematic and concerted diplomacy. New Delhi successfully converge Beijing to withdraw its support for Pakistan and included names of Pakistan-based terrorist organizations in the summit document. Its partners in the grouping also supported and persuaded China to change its foreign policy towards India for smooth and brighter future of the group.
It can be claimed that 9th BRICS summit paved the way for concerted efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms. Similarly it is an indication that China may not oppose Indian resolutions in the UNSC to label Pakistan based organizations as terrorist outfits. Another scenario is emerging about Beijing’s accession for India’s permanent position in the UNSC and Inclusion into NSG.
Thirdly, insertion of Pakistan-based organizations in terrorist organizations list is another major obstruction to already crumbling foreign policy of the country. Since 2013 elections, newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif withhold position of foreign minister, and only appointed advisor on foreign affairs. practically has no say in foreign affairs and all major decisions were taken by the Prime Minister His decision and tenure in the Prime Minister office seriously cause damage to foreign relations of the country and add new challenges in already vacillated foreign policy and diplomacy. Though, Pakistan was aware about BRICS summit and Indian intentions, but Islamabad did not take notice seriously and concentrated its energies on recently announced U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. It seems that Islamabad overlooked emerging geopolitical situation after Doklam standoff and did not realize to contain Indian efforts against Pakistan. Equally important is that Pakistan failed to converge Beijing for its concerns about Indian intentions in BRICS summit. Contrary, it is a significant achievement by India to persuade Beijing for cross border terrorism. A China-based scholar argued that after Beijing’s backing for Indian concerns about terrorism by Islamabad-based terror outfits, pressure will be augmented on Pakistan. At last, Xiamen summit declaration is total failure of Islamabad’s foreign policy and diplomacy and triumph for Indian foreign policy.
Writer: PhD Fellow (International Relations) at School of International & Public Affairs, Jilin University Changchun China