BRICS Declaration Silent on Cross Border Terrorism, Bears Russia- China Stamp

Sunday, October 16,2016

NEW DELHI: The BRICS Goa Declaration is a skilfully worded document
carrying the stamp of Russia and China all over it. Key political
concerns---Syria, Palestine,Afghanistan--- of the two United Nations
Security Council member nations have been singled out for specific and
detailed mention as a direct counter to the current positions taken by
the United States and Israel on these issues.

Interestingly, despite the build up by the Indian media on how the
issue of cross border terrorism would figure prominently at the summit
there is not even a word in the Declaration, not even a hint, that can
lead to some finger pointing at Pakistan.

The phrase ‘cross border terrorism’ does not appear even once in the
long document. This despite the daily claims by the Indian media,
quoting sources, that India will ensure that BRICS shares its concerns
about Pakistan promoted terrorism. That this was not going to happen
was indicated just before the summit, at bilateral meetings when Prime
Minister Narendra Modi was unable to extract an assurance from China’s
President Xi Jinping of removing the technical hold on the UNSC for
designating Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a terrorist.

And while Russian President Vladimir Putin shared concerns about
Pakistan and terrorism, as indeed the world does, but clearly was not
moved sufficiently to ensure this mention in the document of the 8th
BRICS summit.

Instead Putin had a lucrative, big bucks visit signing 16 defence
agreements with India including the supply of helicopters, stealth
frigates,state of the art anti-missile defence systems and more. And
in another deal that must have made Putin even more happy,Russia's
largest oil company, Rosneft, signed an agreement to buy a controlling
stake in India's Essar Oil for about $13 billion.

Despite this, there was no give to the Indian position on terrorism.
In that while terror groups operating in Syria are named and
identified in the declaration, the Pakistan terror groups are not even

It needs to be pointed out here that terrorism is an issue that
figures in all global and bilateral meetings across the world. And in
any number of meetings in different international fora, member nations
have all expressed their concerns about terrorism per se, and the need
to dismantle the infrastructures, cut off funding, and in short, stamp
out the scourge. Pakistan has been party to many such meetings,
describing itself as a victim of terrorism. India was thus on a
mission, if the media and its sources are to be believed, to ensure
that BRICS too a tough stand not just on terrorism but cross border
terrorism that could have been taken as a reference to Pakistan.

But the BRICS declaration has neither named the terror groups
operating out of Pakistan, nor has it mentioned cross border terrorism
in what can only be described as a failure of Indian diplomacy.

This becomes more glaring as the declaration shows no such hesitation
when it comes to Syria where the Russians are at clear loggerheads
with the United States. In fact when analysed the declaration reflects
a clear cut opposition to the US positions in West Asia, and
re-asserts the Russian stance.

The document emphasises the role of the UN Peacekeeping Operations and
calls for strengthening these. It follows this with Point 14 where it
states very clearly “On Syria we call upon all parties involved to
work for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflict
taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Suria,
through inclusive national dialogue and a Syrian led political

And then goes on to identify some of the UNSC designated terrorist
groups operating in Syria with, “while continuing the relentless
pursuit against terrorist groups so desinated by the UN Security
Council including ISIL, Jabhat al Nusra and other terrorist
organisations designated by the UN Security Council.”

There is no such paragraph, on Pakistan in the document. Not even a hint.

The phrase cross border is used for drugs and others such nefarious
practices---not of course linked to any one country---but has not been
used in even a South Asia context on terrorism. Pakistan where Russia
has just concluded military exercises, and China is busy with the
Economic Corridor, has thus been kept out of even finger pointing
distance. At least insofar as the BRICS declaration is concerned.

The US position on Syria has been countered in the declaration,
despite New Delhi’s growing ties with Washington. And again in Point
15, the declaration speaks at some length on Palestine countering both
the US and Israel’s reiterated stand.

The BRICS document speaks instead of the “necessity to implement the
two state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of
the relevant UNSC resolutions, the Madrid Principle and Arab Peace
Initiative, and previous agreements between the two sides, through
negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially
contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel,
within secure, mutually agreed, and internationall recognised borders
on the basis of 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital as
envisaged by the relevant UN resolutions.”

This in itself is a major step away from the declared Israeli and US
position, and the inclusion of Palestine in the statement commits the
BRICS nations to an issue that was fast being pushed into the
marginalised space by the world.

On Afghanistan too, the BRICS statement insists on an Afghan led, and
Afghan owned national reconciliation process, the need to combat
terrorism etc but stresses on the importance of multilateral region
led interaction of Afghan issues, “primarily by those organisations
which consist of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and other
regional states.” The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Heart
of Asia Conference are specifically named here.

Terrorism has been roundly and soundly condemned by the BRICS nations
in the declaration. However, this comes towards the document and as
pointed out above is general in nature. Rather significantly though
there is a line at the end of Point 59 where the declaration call on
all nations “to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terroris”
and lists all that constitutes this.

But at the end of this paragraph adds, “successfully combating
terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter terrorism measures
should uphold international law and respect human rights.” This, as a
senior former diplomat pointed out, is an interesting addition
particularly in the Indian context.

Peace Is Doable

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