Recent weeks have been fraught with bad news for Pakistan. First, President Donald Trump accused that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”. Then, came the declaration adopted by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) at their summit in Xiamen. This caught much attention in Pakistan and the uproar was on two clauses in the 43-page declaration – Clauses 47 and 48. Besides condemning “terrorist attacks resulting in death to innocent Afghan nationals,” the BRICS countries emphasized the “need for immediate cessation of violence.” Moreover, they 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.” Pakistan has long been accused by India of harbouring Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the inclusion of their names is, apparently, a victory for India, though Pakistan had already banned these outfits.
Pakistan recently has come under tremendous pressure, particularly on the alleged presence on its soil of militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and TTP. The fact that China also agreed to a joint declaration at the end of the summit, which has named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan, as a regional security concern, came as a bombshell, because Pakistan’s most celebrated ally, China, was among the countries issuing the warning. This is more intriguing because just two weeks ago, when the US gave a stern warning to Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists, China came to its defence noting that, “Pakistan is at the frontline of fighting terrorism,” and that it has “made sacrifices in fighting terrorism.”
Trump’s strategy has been discussed at length in the last issue of Jahangir’s World Times (JWT), so here our focus will be on the BRICS Declaration and its effects, especially on Pakistan.
This may not be the first time China has taken up with Pakistan the need for fighting the terror groups indiscriminately, but considering that the summit contains China, was held in China, and was stage-managed by the Chinese president, this definitely is the first public rebuke and is crucial because Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” has explicitly called out militant groups in the country – and tacitly Pakistan as well, thus signifying a major shift in the way China looks at the evolving situation in the region.
After the end of Doklam standoff with India, China’s policy in this region has took a sharp turn and the country now seems more in favour of geoeconomics than geopolitics. In order to sustain and enhance its economic growth along with feeding its huge population, Beijing does not want to enter into conflict or war with, for example, India or the United States. India, on the other hand, aspires to excel in manufacturing sector and exporting goods to China than to stay on as a recipient of Chinese products. At the moment, the balance of trade is heavily in favour of China where the latter gets US$80 billion as compared with India’s share of around US$8 billion.
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