Expanding BRICS

Editorial Board
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

There are growing signs that the countries belonging to the Global South are increasingly eager to move away from the Western-led model of global politics and finance that has dominated the world since the end of the cold war. Last week’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa was arguably the latest point on this trend. Six new countries were admitted into the multilateral bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, China and India in 2006, with South Africa joining in 2010. The new entrants include Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Egypt, Argentina and Ethiopia. Reports say that BRICS is seeking to build a stronger coalition of developing countries to better represent the interests of the Global South on the world stage.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, few developing nations have matched the West’s enthusiasm for sanctioning the Russian economy, a key global supplier of commodities crucial to the development of emerging economies, and isolating it in global affairs. If anything, the moves to isolate Russia appear to have only accelerated emerging markets’ plans to seek alternatives to Western-dominated global institutions. De-dollarization and the further expansion of BRICS were reportedly key agendas at the latest BRICS summit.

While Pakistan has reportedly made no formal request to join BRICS as yet, doing so would appear to be the most logical step, given how our foreign relations have changed over the past decade, and also the most beneficial. Since the launch of CPEC, China has arguably replaced the US as our most important foreign partner, reflecting the growing importance of the former both in the region and the world. While maintaining good ties with the West will continue to be crucial to our interests, given the shift in economic and political gravity away from the US and towards China, realigning our foreign relations accordingly ought to be a sensible move. Joining a BRICS in which, according to some, China is the main driving force would not only help deepen ties with the Chinese but also give Pakistan a stronger voice in regional and global affairs. Saarc, South Asia’s main regional bloc, has been crippled by India’s attempts to isolate Pakistan, with India cancelling its participation in the last Saarc summit. However, India will not be able to throw its weight around so easily in BRICS due to the presence of China as a potential counterweight.

Pakistan’s problems, from inflation to dealing with the impacts of climate change, are not unique, many countries across the Global South suffering from similar challenges. Nor can we solve these problems on our own. A collective approach, combining nations from across the developing world, will be crucial to coming up with viable solutions. As such, an eventual move towards BRICS appears to be a no-brainer.