India to pitch for united anti-terror fight at BRICS summit

Terrorism is a global problem.

Terrorism is a global problem.

Terrorism will be a high priority for India at the forthcoming BRICS summit, with New Delhi seeking more concerted joint efforts to curb the international threat.

As leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) gather in Goa this week for their 8th annual summit on October 15-16, India has decided to strongly pitch for a united fight against international terrorism. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Uri army base in Jammu and Kashmir, and ‘surgical strikes’ by the Indian army on Pakistan’s terrorist ‘launch pads,’ India will address the issue of terrorism at the BRICS summit. Not only India, but all BRICS members are facing threats from international terrorism in some form or another.

Host Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to appeal to BRICS leaders for joint efforts to tackle international terrorism, including united action against countries providing safe havens, funds and weapons to terrorists. In his address to BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou (China) in early September, Modi had called for intensified joint efforts by BRICS to combat terrorism and isolate those states that sponsor terrorism.

"Terrorists in South Asia or anywhere for that matter do not own banks or weapons factories. Clearly someone funds and arms them, and BRICS must intensify joint efforts not just to fight terror, but to coordinate actions to isolate those who are supporters and sponsors of terror," Modi said.

India is hosting the BRICS summit for the second time this year. The 4th BRICS summit was held in New Delhi, in March, 2012. The BRICS summit in Goa is taking place in the backdrop of important regional and global developments, financial issues, including the deteriorating India-Pakistan relationship, economic problems affecting the European Union after Brexit, and the US presidential election, among others.

Briefing reporters on the agenda of the forthcoming BRICS summit in Goa Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said the “Agenda is drawn in a broad-brush manner. We will be looking at global economic and political situation. Obviously terrorism is very important part of that.”

“Terrorism is a global problem. It cannot be tackled individually and has to be tackled collectively. We cannot have a differential policy towards terrorism.  There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist,” Sinha said.

The BRICS leaders will adopt the Goa Declaration at the end of their summit. “There would be very strong paragraphs on terrorism, including how to deal with countries that provide sanctuaries and safe havens,” Sinha said.

“At the NSAs (National Security Advisers) level meet recently, we have also actually shifted the goalposts a little by talking about not only sources of finances but also sources from where they (terrorists) get arms and ammunition. These will be reflected in the BRICS discussions,” Sinha said.

BRICS National Security Advisors and a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism met in September to finalise the agenda for the Summit.

Besides the heads of governments of BRICS nations who will attend the summit on October 15 and 16, top leaders of the BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, will participate in the outreach meetings and retreat that are part of the summit format.

Prime Minister Modi especially invited BIMSTEC leaders for the outreach meet. Modi will chair the BIMSTEC meeting in the evening of October 16, followed by a meeting of BRICS and BIMSTEC leaders.

India’s efforts to revive BIMSTEC assumes significance with the collapse of recent SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation) summit after four member-countries, in addition to India, pulled out of the meet to be hosted in November by Pakistan over the issue of cross-border terrorism.

Apart from the final Goa Declaration, a number of documents on trade and economic cooperation between BRICS countries are being finalized for signing during the summit.

Sinha said three MoUs, including those on cooperation in the area of environment and customs, have been agreed upon by the BRICS, adding the pact pertaining to customs will help in breaking the trade barriers between the member-countries.

At the summit, India will also present a draft to set up a BRICS credit rating agency. The draft has already been discussed by the BRICS Finance Ministers and the MoU on the credit rating agency may be signed at the Goa summit. India is also likely to present a proposal to establish a high standard arbitration mechanism to settle intra-BRICS disputes. India is also finalizing a list of priority projects to invite investment from BRICS countries, to give a thrust to the Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme and promote trade and economic cooperation.

Ahead of the summit, China has proposed a free trade area (FTA) for the BRICS grouping, saying such a move would be a “significant form of cooperation.”

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