Islamabad’s participation in China-hosted event ‘blocked by New Delhi’

Published June 28, 2022
Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar briefs the media. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar briefs the media. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: India obstructed Pakistan’s participation in a conference hosted by China last week. Pakistan’s absence from the ‘High-level Dialogue on Global Develop­ment’ on the sidelines of BRICS summit on Friday prompted speculations about the reasons for not being invited to the multilateral event.

Foreign Office, while clarifying the situation on Monday, said: “Regrettably one member blocked Pakistan’s participation.” The FO did not name any country, but a diplomatic source on the background confirmed that it was India.

Besides the five members of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the event held in a virtual format was participated by Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand.

A communique issued after the meeting said the leaders of 18 countries discussed global development issues of common interest and reached extensive consensus on promoting cooperation in the areas of poverty reduction, for development, food security, pandemic response and vaccines, financing climate change and green development, industrialisation, digital economy and connectivity.

Indian opposition to Pakistan’s participation in multilateral events is well known, but it was surprising for many that Beijing succumbed to Indian pressure.

FO spokesman Asim Iftikhar said China had engaged with Pakistan on this issue prior to the BRICS meetings. He explained that at BRICS decisions are taken after consultations with all members, including on extending invitation to non-members.

Pakistan’s absence was significant because this event is being seen as the first step towards the expected expansion of BRICS.

Mr Iftikhar expressed the hope that “principles of inclusivity” would be observed at future events of the organisation in view of the overall interests of developing world. He cautioned against taking such a decision on the basis of “narrow geo-political considerations”.

The spokesman noted Pakistan’s desire to work with developing countries, including the BRICS members, for addressing the challenges faced by the global community. He said Pakistan appreciates China’s role in promoting the interests of developing countries.

“Together with China, Pakistan has been a strong voice for global peace, shared prosperity and inclusive development. Pakistan is the current chair of G77 plus China and also part of group of friends of the Global Development Initiative(GDI),” he added.

Rejecting rumours of China turning a cold shoulder to Pakistan, Mr Iftikhar said Pakistan and China are all-weather strategic partners and their iron brotherhood remains rock solid. “The two countries are fully committed to taking our all-round cooperation to higher levels both bilaterally and multilaterally,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022

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