(This was originally posted in India Today by Geeta Mohan)
BRICS has emerged as an influential voice for the emerging economies of the world as it focuses on the priorities of developing countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted during a virtual summit of the five-nation grouping on Thursday. “BRICS made many achievements in the last one and a half decades. Today, we are an influential voice for emerging economies of the world. We need to ensure that BRICS is more productive in the next 15 years,” PM Modi said while chairing the 13th BRICS summit.
In the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro, the summit adopted the BRICS counter-terrorism action plan, said PM Modi. The grouping had a comprehensive meeting on all issues related to security, regional issues, Covid-19, climate change, reform of the UN Security Council, et al.
While PM Modi did not make any reference to Afghanistan in his opening remarks, the issue was discussed in detail during the meeting. National Security Advisor of India, Ajit Doval, made a presentation of the deliberations that took place among security officials of BRICS nations on August 24, following which a statement issued by the Indian government read, “India raised the issue of cross-border terrorism and activities of groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed which enjoy state support and threaten peace and security,”
The 13th BRICS summit also marked the first time the five-nation group has taken collective position on strengthening and reforming multilateral systems. Russian President Putin in his opening remarks said, “We, of course, are not interested in Afghanistan remaining a threat to the surrounding countries, so that terrorism and illegal drug trafficking threaten us from Afghan territory. We are interested in stopping the flow of migration, we stand for Afghans to be able to live peacefully and with dignity in their homeland.”
On Afghanistan, the BRICS leaders called for “refraining from violence and settling the situation by peaceful means in Afghanistan”, through an “inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue” so as to ensure stability, civil peace, law and order in the country. They underscored the priority of fighting terrorism, including preventing attempts by terrorist organisations to use Afghan territory as terrorist sanctuary and to carry out attacks against other countries. They emphasised the need to address the humanitarian situation and to uphold human rights, including those of women, children and minorities.
US CRITICISED FOR ITS WAY OF HANDLING AFGHANISTAN SITUATION
Meanwhile, taking a jibe at the “western” form of democracy that the US tried to impose on Afghanistan and failed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “I have said many times that the current round of the crisis in Afghanistan is a direct consequence of irresponsible attempts to impose alien values from the outside, the desire to build so-called democratic structures by methods of socio-political engineering, without taking into account either the historical or national characteristics of other peoples, ignoring their traditions.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “”Over the past 15 years, the five countries have enhanced strategic communication and political trust in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and equality, respected each other’s social system and development path, and explored a sound way for countries to interact with each other,” BRICS countries are quite divided on how to engage with the Taliban. While Russia and China have emerged as important players, New Delhi, albeit a near neighbour, is adopting a “wait and watch” policy.
China on Thursday extended an emergency aid of $31 million to Afghanistan to help the Taliban run the government. Explaining India’s concerns, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Sanjay Bhattacharya during a press interaction after the summit meeting said, “There is a very strong consensus. Afghanistan should not become a reason for problems in the neighbourhood.”
NEED FOR COOPERATION ON STUDY OF ORIGINS OF COVID
Leaders highlighted the need for cooperation on study of origins of the SARS-COV-2 – an important aspect of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. They also called Covid-19 extensive immunisation as a global public good. Acknowledging that the continued relevance of the UN system would be determined by its ability to adapt to contemporary realities, the leaders pledged resolve towards strengthening and reforming the multilateral system to make global governance more responsive and agile, effective, transparent, democratic, representative and accountable to member states.
BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade. This is the second time Prime Minister Modi is chairing the BRICS summit. Earlier, he had chaired the Goa summit in 2016. The Indian chairship of the five-nation grouping this year coincides with the 15th anniversary of BRICS. The theme for the summit is: ‘BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS cooperation for continuity, consolidation and consensus’. China will be hosting the BRICS next year.
India had outlined four priority areas for its chairship. These are reform of the multilateral system, counter-terrorism, using digital and technological tools for achieving SDGs and enhancing people-to-people exchanges. The MEA said that NSA Ajit Doval, President of the New Development Bank Marcos Troyjo, the ‘pro tempore’ Chair of the BRICS Business Council Onkar Kanwar and ‘pro tempore’ Chair of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance Sangita Reddy will present reports on the outcomes pursued this year under their respective tracks to the leaders during the Summit.