India blocks Pakistan’s invite to BRICS dialogue

— Experts warn Pakistani policymakers in ‘unilateral rush’ for opening trade with India against possible consequences

ISLAMABAD: Without naming India, the Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar on Monday said ‘a member country of BRICS’ was behind blocking an invitation to Pakistan to attend the ‘High level Dialogue on Global Development’ held virtually on the sidelines of the BRICS meetings last week.

The Indian move is being viewed as a major shock for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government who has been trying hard to warm up ties with New Delhi since overtaking the reins from outgoing Prime Minister Imran Khan. The newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has recently said that he would like to open talks and trade with Indian people despite Kashmir dispute.

Well placed sources in the government have told Pakistan Today that while the leaders of two dozen non-member countries of the BRICS format attended the meeting virtually on June 24, many eyebrows were raised at the absence of Pakistan from the meeting who is a strategic partner of China and the host to the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Pakistan congratulates China on the successful hosting of the BRICS meetings,” FO Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said, adding that China, being the host country, engaged with Pakistan prior to the BRICS meetings, where decisions are taken after consultations with all BRICS members, including extending an invitation to non-members.

“Regrettably, one member blocked Pakistan’s participation,” the spokesperson added.

“However, we do hope that future engagement of the organisation would be based on the principles of inclusivity keeping in view the overall interests of the developing world and in a manner that is devoid of narrow geopolitical considerations,” Iftikhar said.

The spokesperson said Islamabad appreciated Beijing’s role in promoting the interests of the developing countries. Together with China, Pakistan had been a strong voice for global peace, shared prosperity and inclusive development.

“Pakistan is the current chair of G77+China and also part of a group of friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI). Pakistan and China are all-weather strategic partners and our iron brotherhood remains rock solid. The two countries are fully committed to take our all-round cooperation to higher levels both bilaterally and multilaterally. Pakistan stands ready to with all developing countries, including the BRICS members for addressing the challenges faced by the global community,” said the FO spokesperson.

China has been lobbying to expand BRIC – floating the idea of BRICS Plus – asking to include developing countries to the group. However, India has been resisting the move.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, an eminent expert on foreign policy, told Pakistan Today that India, by blocking Pakistan’s participation in an otherwise harmless meeting on Economic Development, has revealed its true colours about Pakistan.

“India, by blocking Pakistan’s participation in an otherwise harmless meeting on Economic Development, has revealed its true colours about Pakistan that its actual intent and policy is to isolate, malign, damage and destabilise Pakistan at all regional and global fora whether it’s FATF, UN, G20, SAARC, Disinfo Lab in Brussels or BRICS,” said the Senator.

“But this should be a wake up call for our policymakers, and all others, who are in an unseemly rush and eager, keen and pleading for opening up trade with India unilaterally, while India leaves no stone unturned to harm Pakistan, even preventing Pakistani participation in a harmless economic development forum. Pakistani policymakers should realise there’s a very short distance between appeasement and surrender,” concluded Senator Mushahid Hussain who has an eagle eye on regional and global developments.

Ambassador Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan’s absence from the BRICS dialogue has afforded an opportunity to the gossipers, critics and of course Pakistan’s adversaries who would not let go off any occasion to hurt and cast a shadow on Pakistan-China relations.

“These efforts have increased ever since CPEC has been formalised. It is not a secret
which all countries and their backed propagandists are involved. BRICS was
founded in 2006 and first summit was held in 2009. A close follow-up of the
outcomes of BRICS would reveal, the malicious role India has on many
occasions played to hurt Pakistan at this forum,” said the former diplomat.

“I recall that in 2016-17 BRICS summit, when (India) tried to vilify Pakistan, a BRICS member criticised India. It is understood that BRICS decisions are taken on the basis of consensus. No Pakistani, in particular, and others in general, should have any doubt that India would ever give space to Pakistan at any forum, which India would have joined
prior to Pakistan. IOR ARC is one example,” he said.

Zakaria said India remains focussed to malign and vilify Pakistan using all forums where Pakistan is absent.

“FATF is a case in point. I think it’s important to see things in their correct perspectives,” he concluded.

Ambassador Zamir Akram said that this is typical malevolent and churlish Indian behaviour towards Pakistan.

“They did the same in the UNSC debate on Afghanistan a few months ago. Those in Pakistan who think they can improve relations with India should wake up to this reality,” he concluded.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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