Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development (HLDGD) on June 24. This virtual meet was part of the BRICS summit that China recently hosted. This particular meeting included many non-BRICS members.
Apart from BRICS member states like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, countries that attended the meeting were Iran, Egypt, Fiji, Algeria, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Guess who was not in attendance? Pakistan and its Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif. Pakistan’s absence in an important meeting that is being seen as a precursor to BRICS’ expansion is no small deal.
The expansion of BRICS has been on the cards for quite some time now. The High-Level Dialogue on Global Development, meanwhile, represents all the countries that might be given entry into BRICS.
Pakistan has always wanted to be a part of the same, yet, its absence from the significant virtual meet points to the fact that Islamabad is not a frontrunner to become a member of the organization.
India Gets China to Block Pakistan
Pakistani media is rife with reports which say India was the country that got China to block Pakistan’s entry into the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development.
In a statement, the Pakistani Foreign Office Monday said, “We have noted that this year a ‘High-level Dialogue on Global Development’ was held as a BRICS side event in which a number of developing/emerging economies were invited… Regrettably, one member (of BRICS) blocked Pakistan’s participation.”
A spokesperson for the Pakistani Foreign Office said, “However, we do hope that future engagement of the organization would be based on the principles of inclusivity keeping in view the overall interests of the developing world and in a manner that is devoid of narrow geopolitical considerations.”
That China reportedly succumbed to pressure from India, and blocked the entry of its “all-weather ally” into the important BRICS side-event has ruffled many feathers in Pakistan, with many in Islamabad feeling cheated.
Suddenly, Pakistan sees its only ‘friend’ drifting away from it to better position itself among the democratic world – of which India is an integral part.
Pakistan is being continuously snubbed by China for quite some time now.
In fact, even when Imran Khan was Prime Minister in February and Beijing hosted a handful of “world leaders” on the occasion of the opening of the Winter Olympic Games, Islamabad was told to cut down its ministerial entourage.
China offered no loans or bailouts to Pakistan, and all that Imran Khan got was a short and inconsequential meeting with Xi Jinping.
The Chinese Reset
China is recalibrating its foreign policy. As a part of this temporary reset, China is looking to distance itself from both Russia as well as Pakistan. Antagonizing the United States and its allies in the West has cost Pakistan dearly.
US President Joe Biden, for one, had neither called Imran Khan after taking over the White House, and neither has he spoken to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif yet.
India, on its part, has made it a point to diplomatically isolate Pakistan. Having said that, getting China to block Pakistan’s entry at an event hosted by it is a big win for New Delhi.
To an extent, China also seems to be offering an olive branch to India, in wake of heightened tensions between the two Asian powers that has only proven detrimental to Beijing’s interests.
Amid an economic slowdown that threatens to derail China’s ambitions of replacing the United States as the world’s largest economy; the global reset being caused by the war in Ukraine and the CCP’s heightened scrutiny of Xi Jinping’s actions – Beijing is toning down its rhetoric and distancing itself from problematic partners.
For Pakistan, the loss of China as a friend, even momentarily, is not just a PR crisis, but is also an indicator of how Beijing might turn its back on Islamabad without blinking twice.
That China has done so already by not inviting Pakistan to the HLDGD meet – that too at India’s behest – will make many people in Islamabad and Rawalpindi perspire uncontrollably.