ACCORDING to the G-20 Website, the Group of 20 countries/world’s largest developed and developing economies was founded in 1999, comprising, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union, as a bloc to discuss international economic and financial stability. G20 members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade and about two-thirds of the world population.
The G20 was upgraded to the level of Heads of State/Government in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis of 2007, to act as a premier forum for international economic cooperation.G-20 annual summits have evolved into a major forum for discussing economics and other pressing global issues, like, trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change, anti-corruption and now also the geopolitical issues impacting the world peace and/economy. The G20 Summit is held annually under the leadership of a rotating Presidency.
India holds the current Presidency of G-20 till 30 November 2023.The 18th summit of G-20 was held on 9-10 September 2023 in New Delhi. The G-20 summit broadly agreed to cooperate on energizing of the international economy, availability of greater resources for development, expansion of tourism, global workplace opportunities, stronger food security and a deeper commitment to bio-fuels. The G-20 member countries also passed a resolution favouring a sustainable peace in Ukraine as the conflict is adversely affecting the world economy.
At the G20 Summit, India, the US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. President Biden called it a “game-changing” regional investment project.
No doubt, the steps being taken and supported by the G-20 summit and other such multilateral forums regarding the world economy and the advancement of points of interest of the developing South are welcome steps from Pakistan’s viewpoint. But, the points of concern for Pakistan are, when in its absence at such forums, India uses these forums to get political mileage detriment to Pakistan’s interest, by terming the Kashmiris’ just freedom struggle as terrorism and blaming Pakistan for supporting it, thus undermining Pakistan’s international status, distorting IIOJ&K’s UNSC recognized legal position and Pakistan’s position as a legal party to the dispute as per the UNSC resolutions on J&K State.
By playing such politics at G-20 like forums and drawing advantage out of major powers/other major countries strategic/commercial interests linked with it, India tries to overshadow the world’s concerns about its illegal steps taken about IIOJ&K on 5 August 2019, of taking away its autonomy and dividing it into two federally controlled states with the objective to absorb the disputed IIOJ&K permanently. India also masks its support of the ongoing terrorism in Pakistan, its state terrorism and HR abuses in the IIOJ&K and against its minorities, especially the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
India also takes steps and signs/joins the bilateral/multilateral agreements during such multilateral forums with one of the objectives to isolate Pakistan regionally/internationally and limit its economic/strategic gains/options to contain its economic development. For example, India exploits the US/western sentiment against China, by criticizing Pakistan-China partnership and the CPEC, to alienate them from Pakistan. By playing politics, India also tries to draw away Pakistan’s regional/extra-regional friends, especially the Gulf countries, to weaken its strong economic and defence ties with them.
For example, as the G-20 President, India had also invited its friendly heads of state/government of Bangladesh, Netherlands, Spain, Oman, UAE, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, the African Union (AU) and Singapore, to advance its diplomatic relations through goodwill of inviting them. Bangladesh was invited to make it further closer to India and to distance it from Pakistan and to isolate Pakistan in South Asia. The African Union (AU), having 55-member countries has been made a permanent member of G-20.
And, Pakistan not being a member of such forums or connected with these forums in any capacity, not even as a guest participant, to interact with the friendly countries on the sidelines, it cannot draw related strategic/economic benefits and also use its diplomacy to neutralize India’s declared or veiled politics to undermine its position. Therefore, in view of the above stated scenario, it is important that Pakistan should struggle to become a permanent member of major multilateral forums whichis possible as during the last BRICS summit and recently held G-20 summit at New Delhi, six new members were admitted to BRICS and the AU has been admitted as a permanent member of G-20.
For becoming a permanent member of BRICS and G-20 like forums, Pakistan can easily qualify, because, its ongoing temporary economic downslide notwithstanding, historically, its economy has been a vibrant one with high growth rates, as, according to the macro trends, while in 1965 and 1980, Presidents Ayub Khan and Zia’s times, Pakistan’s economic growth rate was above 10 percent each, in 2004, Musharraf’s time, it was 7.6 percent, in Nawaz Sharif’s time in 2017 it was 6.4 percent and in Imran’s time in 2021, it was 6.5 per cent, whereas, as per the S&P Global, India’s growth rate in January 2023 was just 6.1 per cent.
Therefore, within next about five years, if political stability is achieved quickly and correct economic policies are adopted, Pakistan’s economic growth rate can again reach above 6 percent of the GDP and it can qualify to become a permanent member of the BRICS and G-20. Therefore, it is necessary that Pakistan focuses on quickly attaining political stability and reviving/strengthening its economy to attain membership of BRICS and G-20.In the interim period, Pakistan should try to attend such forums’ meetings/summits as a guest participant to make positive contribution to draw economic/strategic benefits and to diplomatically neutralize/limit India’s options of using such forums for advancing its anti-Pakistan agenda.
—The writer is also a former Research Fellow of IPRI and Senior Research Fellow of SVI Islamabad.
Email: [email protected]