Amid economic crisis, Pakistan expresses interest in joining BRICS: Report

TOPSHOT - A student waves the national flag of Pakistan outside the mausoleum of country's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, after Pakistan's 75th Independence Day ceremony in Karachi on August 14, 2022. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP) (Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid a deepening economic crisis and stalled talks with International Monetary Fund to get loans, Pakistan has expressed its interest in joining the BRICS, Pakistan Today reported.


As per the Pakistani daily, Islamabad’s aspirations will be deliberated upon at the group’s upcoming summit in South Africa in August.


Nineteen countries including Pakistan have expressed their interest in joining the BRICS, and these aspirations will be deliberated upon at the group’s upcoming summit in South Africa in August.


One of the primary foreign policy agendas of Pakistan is to apply for membership in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).


Though the BRICS member states have expressed their desire to expand the membership of the grouping, there is hardly any appetite within the grouping to include Pakistan, in spite of China’s presence.


There is fear among the grouping that any attempt to include Pakistan as part of the grouping could weaken the credibility of the BRICS with India withdrawing from any willing participation in the grouping.


India may choose to refrain from active participation in the group, thereby denying the grouping of one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies, consumer markets and advanced manufacturing hubs.


There are three reasons why Pakistan cannot be allowed to join BRICS. The first is concerns on finance, specifically BRICS’s direct challenge to the G7 in terms of economics and trade.


In terms of GDP purchasing power parity (PPP), China is the world’s largest economy followed by India in third place, Russia in sixth and Brazil in eighth.


As a grouping, they represent 31.5 per cent of the global GDP while G7’s share has dropped to 30 per cent. Additionally, all five member states of BRICS are also members of G20 and there have been instances where preparatory meetings held by BRICS members in the areas of governance reform, especially in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, were adopted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20.


BRICS has also created two new institutions, the New Development Bank (NDB), also known as the BRICS Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA).


CRA, which has a capital of more than USD 100 billion, can help member states withstand any short-term balance of payment crises.


Pakistan if allowed in BRICS, can easily access the USD 100 billion CRA as well as the comparatively lenient loan conditions of NDB, without improving the functioning of the Pakistani state. Since Pakistan’s economy is a non-starter in terms of exports or contribution to the global economy and with a perpetually disturbed state, Pakistan’s inclusion will be a major factor in reducing BRICS’s importance since the grouping will be saddled with a liability which it cannot shed, in the process dissuading other deserving countries from being part of the group.


The second factor is the danger of the ‘SAARC-isation’ of BRICS. This implies that the inclusion of Pakistan in BRICS may lead to a deadlock with India in a number of cases, leading to a defunct group.


The third and final reason is the lack of any concreteness in Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives, apart from finding new partners in the name of Islam and wresting favours, economic and geopolitical, from them. Pakistan has been categorized as a rentier state by a few analysts, and this tag fits them to the hilt.


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