In what is being perceived as a major moral victory for India, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa not only collectively condemned terror in all forms Monday, but also named several terrorist outfits which operate out of Pakistan. The 43-page Xiamen Declaration, released after Monday’s inauguration of the 9th BRICS summit being held in the southeastern Chinese city, devotes five paragraphs to terror.
After expressing concern over the situation in Afghanistan, the declaration names the Taliban, ISIL/DAESH, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the TTP. While the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement is active in China’s Xinjiang, the last four are based out of Pakistan. Though it did not name Pakistan, just listing these outfits assumes significance because China has repeatedly used its veto power in the UN to prevent Jaish chief Masood Azhar from being officially declared a terrorist.
While some analysts argue this indicates the possibility of China rethinking its position on Azhar, others note China has signed on to similar anti-terror declarations (though these specific outfits had not been named) at earlier summits. But Islamabad can hardly afford to ignore the fact that this condemnation comes from a summit being held in China. It is also significant that a week before the summit, China had warned India not to raise Pakistan-based terror at BRICS, saying it was not the right platform for such issues.
In his inaugural address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention terror at all, preferring instead to focus on development and economic issues which the five nations are grappling with at a time when the world is ‘drifting towards uncertainty’. But the joint statement more than makes up for it. Now it remains to be seen whether Modi will meet Xi on the sidelines of the summit, and if so, whether he will raise terror as well as ways to avoid another Doklam.