The group, which criticized Israel for the war in Gaza this week, is increasingly seen as the leading voice of the global South.
Islamabad, Pakistan — Pakistan officially applied for membership BRICSthe grouping of five emerging economies that includes rival India alongside Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, at a time when the body is rapidly gaining status as the leading bloc in the Global South.
Calling BRICS an “important group of developing countries”, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, spokesperson for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, revealed that the country had made a “formal request” to join the group.
“We think that in join BRICS, Pakistan can play an important role in strengthening international cooperation and revitalizing inclusive multilateralism. We also hope that BRICS will move forward with Pakistan’s request, in line with its commitment to inclusive multilateralism,” Baloch said at a press briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.
The spokesperson added that Pakistan enjoyed warm ties with “most” BRICS members.
The confirmation comes two days after Muhammad Khalid Jamali, Pakistan’s envoy-designate to Russia, revealed that his country had requested to join the group in an interview with TASS, Russia’s state-run news agency.
“Pakistan would like to be part of this important organization and we are in the process of reaching out to member countries to provide support for the membership of Pakistan in general and the Russian Federation in particular,” the ambassador told TASS.
Many analysts see BRICS as challenging a world order dominated by the United States and its Western allies in important political decisions.
At the last BRICS summit, held in South Africa in August, the group’s popularity was evident, with at least 40 countries interested in joining.
At the end of the three-day summit, the group announced that six countries Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran would join next year.
Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Pakistani Senate’s foreign affairs committee, was in South Africa earlier this year to attend events on the sidelines of the leaders’ summit.
“The world is moving towards regionalism, and now countries are cooperating to ensure connectivity with each other,” Sayed told Al Jazeera, applauding the government’s decision to join the body.
Salma Malik, associate professor at Islamabad’s Qauid-e-Azam University and strategic affairs expert, also agreed with Sayed and said such “regional, economic and cultural unions” would be beneficial for Pakistan.
“We are in the age of multilateralism. You are heard better in smaller groups and can express broader concerns. You can build a common consensus on various issues of concern,” the academic told Al Jazeera.
Earlier this week, BRICS countries – including the six that will join in 2024 – joined a virtual meeting in which they almost unanimously called for a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza .
However, foreign policy analyst Muhammad Faisal does not share their enthusiasm.
“In reality, apart from repeated political statements, such as Pakistan being unhappy with the Western-led world order, there would be no significant benefits,” he told Al Jazeera.
Faisal further said that although the country had applied to join the group, its membership was far from certain.
“The road ahead for Pakistan is now quite difficult and long. This involves a significant degree of politics between the founding members regarding the induction of new members. Pakistan’s case particularly faces Indian opposition, which could depend on the health of India-China relations,” he added.
The concerns are not unfounded. In June last year, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said its participation in a major political dialogue event, which took place on the sidelines of the BRICS leaders’ summit in China, had been blocked by “a member “.
Although Pakistan did not name India as a country, it expressed hope that the bloc’s future engagement would be based on the principles of “inclusiveness” and in the interest of the developing world.
If India plays the role of “spoiler” regarding Pakistan’s membership application, Sayed said, it would only add to a series of such incidents.
“Whether it is cricket, diplomacy or politics, India will always pose obstacles. But it’s not the only game in town,” he said.
“The current crisis in the Middle East has shown that India is more in the American or Israeli camp than in that of the Global South. If you look at the bigger picture, India is on the wrong side of history.