The Big Story: BRICS in the wall

As India prepares for the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach in Goa this weekend, it is clear that the country most on its mind is one that will not be attending: Pakistan. Ten countries will be sending their leaders to Goa – Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, as well as the members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, which includes a large number of the SAARC countries. By Thursday, it was clear that India was using the international meet to shore up its defences, gather its allies close, push forward with its stated goal of diplomatically isolating Pakistan.

For instance, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval urged his BRICS counterparts to step up counter-terror cooperation and set up a legal regime that was not hobbled by niceties over the definition of terror. This could take the countries closer to a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which India has been pushing for but which has been stuck for years because everyone differed on the meaning of terror. Also, a few days ago India looked stormy about joint military exercises between Pakistan and Russia, but that has not stopped it from signing big-ticket defence deals with the latter. Then Bangladesh went ahead and explicitly announced its grievances with Pakistan. These included Pakistan's export of terror and its criticism of the trials and execution of Jama'at-e-Islami leaders in Bangladesh.

But India's single-minded pursuit of Pakistan has two problems with it. First, it is bound to meet a roadblock in the form of China, an influential member of the BRICS and a close ally of Pakistan. While China has shown signs of relenting on India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, it stands firm on blocking India's bid to have Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations. Second, by obsessing over Pakistan, India could lose sight of the other possibilities the summit offers – the chance to build greater cooperation on developmental and environmental issues that could pump new life into the economy.

The Big Scroll: on the day's big story

Urvashi Sarkar writes that BRICS may not replace the old world order but could make a difference.

Political pickings

1. The Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to join the government of Chief Minister Pema Khandu in Arunachal Pradesh, deepening its presence in the North East.

2. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina claims "frustration" with Pakistan's export of terror prompted the country to pull out of the SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad.

3. Though the Centre is unable to build a consensus on the land acquisition bill, four states have passed laws easing regulations on the commercial use of land. They include Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

4. A member of the Jammu and Kashir Armed Police has been suspended after reportedly giving information to Pakistan.


1. In the Indian Express, Ayesha Siddiqa on how the travel ban on journalist Cyril Almeida reveals old cracks and new strains in the army-government relationship in Pakistan.

2. In the Hindu, G Sampath on where Dalit politics meets the Left.

3. In the Economic Times, Sandip Roy on why United States presidential candidate Donald Trump may have competition in British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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