India’s petty act

No amount of bilateral communication can fully compensate for a multilateral discussion among major stakeholders

June 29, 2022


It appears India was able to block an invitation for Pakistan to participate in a virtual BRICS moot last week. Reports suggest that about 30 countries, including all five BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — participated in a dialogue on global development. China, as the host nation, wanted its close ally Pakistan to be among the non-member attendees, but the proposed invitation was blocked by “one member”, according to the Pakistani Foreign Office. Considering Pakistan’s foreign relations, it is clear that only one of the five BRICS members would have any reason to block Pakistan’s presence.

While China, understandably, would not want to ruffle any feathers by showing preference to a non-member over a member at the moot, India’s act is quite petty. Pakistan is the world’s fifth-most populous country and the poorest of the top 10 most populous countries. Global poverty and development cannot be discussed without including such a significant country. The Foreign Office noted this, with its spokesman calling for future meetings to keep in view the overall interests of the developing world instead of “narrow geopolitical considerations”. It is also worth noting that statements from the Chinese foreign ministry regarding close cooperation and communication suggest that officials in both countries remained in touch with regard to the happenings at the meetings — a reminder that China values Pakistan’s input and acknowledges its role in discussions on socioeconomic development.

Unfortunately, no amount of bilateral communication can fully compensate for a multilateral discussion among major stakeholders. But such a moot is becoming impossible, largely due to some countries’ refusal to sit at a table — even a virtual one — with its rivals. India, however, is the most prominent of these countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government in New Delhi have long used censorship as their go-to weapon to avoid meaningful discussions on any issues, good or bad. From silencing domestic critics, including respected journalists, academics, rights activists and literally even schoolchildren with threats of prison time, to blocking rival countries — usually Pakistan — from attending any multilateral events where New Delhi holds sway, the Indian government’s fascistic approach to dealing with criticism, or for that matter, anything less than absolute agreement, is unprecedented.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2022.

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