South Asian ten­sions seen dom­i­nat­ing BRICS sum­mit

In­dia hosts sum­mit of emerg­ing mar­ket pow­ers

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

NEW DELHI: In­dia will take its drive to iso­late Pak­istan and rally the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity against cross-bor­der mil­i­tancy to a sum­mit of emerg­ing mar­ket pow­ers this week­end, when it hosts BRICS na­tions in the western state of Goa. For Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, the gath­er­ing of lead­ers from Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to high­light the threat he sees to In­dian se­cu­rity from re­cent fron­tier clashes with Pak­istan. But across the sum­mit ta­ble at a re­sort ho­tel, Chinese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is un­likely to have much in­ter­est in cast­ing Bei­jing’s al­liance with Pak­istan into doubt.

The fi­nal sum­mit dec­la­ra­tion is ex­pected to re­peat ear­lier con­dem­na­tions of “ter­ror­ism in all its forms”, say diplo­mats and an­a­lysts, but avoid lev­el­ing blame over ten­sions be­tween the nu­clear-armed South Asian ri­vals. Such dis­cus­sions will make se­cu­rity a dom­i­nant is­sue at the eighth an­nual sum­mit of the group, even as lead­ers also ad­dress core themes such as the global econ­omy, fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual trade. “We will be look­ing at the global eco­nomic and political sit­u­a­tion, and ob­vi­ously ter­ror­ism is a very im­por­tant part of that,” Amar Sinha, the In­dian for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial re­spon­si­ble for the BRICS file, told a pre-sum­mit briefing.

Not just a ‘jolly part­ner’

Where Modi and Xi may see eye to eye, at least pri­vately, is in a shared de­sire for Is­lam­abad to re­strain Is­lamist mil­i­tants who, in Bei­jing’s view, pose a threat to China’s plans to build a $46 bil­lion trade cor­ri­dor that runs through Pak­istan to the Ara­bian Sea. “Con­trary to the pub­lic mes­sag­ing in Is­lam­abad, China is not the per­pet­ual jolly part­ner when it comes to its re­la­tions with Pak­istan,” said Michael Kugel­man, a se­nior pro­gram as­so­ciate at the Wil­son Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton who fo­cuses on South Asia.

“With China’s in­vest­ments and eco­nomic as­sets grow­ing in Pak­istan, it’s only nat­u­ral that it would worry. All mil­i­tants, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as char­ac­ter­ized by Pak­istan, threaten sta­bil­ity and by ex­ten­sion China’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests.” In ad­di­tion to launch­ing what it de­scribed as cross-bor­der “sur­gi­cal strikes” against sus­pected mil­i­tants in Pak­istan, in re­sponse to a Sept. 18 at­tack on an army base that killed 19 In­dian sol­diers, New Delhi has mounted a diplo­matic of­fen­sive to iso­late Is­lam­abad. Pak­istan has de­nied any part in the at­tack on the Uri army base, near the de facto bor­der that runs through the dis­puted ter­ri­tory of Kash­mir. It also de­nies any “sur­gi­cal strikes” took place, say­ing there was only bor­der fir­ing that is rel­a­tively com­mon along the fron­tier. Is­lam­abad says In­dia has ex­ploited the in­ci­dent to di­vert at­ten­tion from its own se­cu­rity crack­down on protests sparked by the killing of a pop­u­lar sep­a­ratist mil­i­tant leader. More than 80 civil­ians have been killed and thou­sands wounded in In­dia’s part of Kash­mir, and a wide­spread cur­few has been im­posed.

Ex­pres­sions of sup­port

Af­ter the Uri at­tack, In­dia quickly won ex­pres­sions of sup­port from the West and from Rus­sia, whose Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin will also hold a bi­lat­eral sum­mit with Modi in Goa. China, for its part, has shown pub­lic re­straint. Zhao Gancheng, di­rec­tor of South Asia stud­ies at the Shang­hai In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said that China and Pak­istan were pay­ing close at­ten­tion to se­cu­rity threats to the trade cor­ri­dor. “If Pak­istan’s se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion does not im­prove, it will ob­struct some of these projects - es­pe­cially in­fra­struc­ture ones,” said Zhao. “In this sense, co­op­er­a­tion on counter-ter­ror­ism is very close.” In­dia has al­ready en­gi­neered the col­lapse of a South Asian re­gional sum­mit to have been hosted by Pak­istan, and the Goa gath­er­ing will also fea­ture an out­reach ses­sion to coun­tries from the Bay of Ben­gal re­gion that could emerge as an al­ter­na­tive fo­cus of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

Work­ing groups

BRICS lead­ers will sup­port plans agreed by their na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers to cre­ate three work­ing groups to co­op­er­ate on cy­ber se­cu­rity, coun­tert­er­ror­ism and en­ergy se­cu­rity, said Sinha, the In­dian for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial. But diplo­mats and an­a­lysts say that In­dia’s long-held am­bi­tion of join­ing the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group, a club of nu­clear-trad­ing na­tions, is un­likely to progress at Goa with China yet to soften its block­ing stance. And, de­spite con­cerns about mil­i­tancy within Pak­istan, China has re­buffed In­dia’s calls for the United Na­tions to des­ig­nate Maulana Ma­sood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-eMo­hammed group that In­dia blames for re­cent cross-bor­der at­tacks, as a ter­ror­ist. China re­cently ex­tended a so-called “hold” on the des­ig­na­tion by a fur­ther three months. That re­flects an evolv­ing ri­valry be­tween the world’s two most pop­u­lous na­tions in which, un­der Modi, In­dia is seek­ing to close huge eco­nomic and mil­i­tary gaps and is shift­ing away from tra­di­tional non-align­ment and seek­ing a closer part­ner­ship with the United States. At the same time, China is ex­pand­ing its eco­nomic and strate­gic reach into the In­dian Ocean re­gion, with Xi vis­it­ing Bangladesh yes­ter­day en route to Goa where he is ex­pected to sign loans worth $24 bil­lion.

— AP

GOA: In­dian com­muters wait at a bus dec­o­rated with BRICS wel­come ban­ners and pho­tos of their lead­ers in Goa, In­dia yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.