ABUJA (NIGERIA): In a veiled reference to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India, Vice-President Hamid Ansari has made a compelling case for bolstering counter-terror cooperation with Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, and underlined that “the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy should be unequivocally condemned.”
Invoking the common suffering experienced by Nigeria and India from the scourge of terrorism, Mr Ansari exhorted the world community not to make any distinction between good and bad terrorists and speak in one voice against this trans-national menace.
“Your country, like mine, has suffered the horrors of this scourge of terrorism. Terrorism today has global reach, no city remains safe,” Mr Ansari said at the National Defence College in the Nigerian capital Abuja on September 28. “Use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is to be unequivocally condemned. There can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists.” Delinking terrorism with religion, the vice-president argued that a terrorist can’t have any religion or be afforded political sanctuary.
Dubbing terrorism as the biggest threat to international peace, Mr Ansari stressed that no cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians as a means to achieve a political goal or change of policies.
Leveraging shared interests and developmental agenda with Africa’s most population country, the vice-president pitched for enhanced security and counter-terror cooperation with Nigeria, saying stronger India-Nigeria relations would not only be mutually beneficial, but would also add to regional and global security. “Together we stand as giants of Africa and Asia respectively and as we march ahead in our quest for economic and military security, collaborative efforts borne out of mutual trust can be leveraged effectively to achieve our strategic goals,” he said to applause from senior officers and alumni of the NDC.
Fittingly, Mr Ansari unveiled India’s vision of enhanced defence cooperation with Nigeria at the National Defence College in Abuja, which epitomizes India-Nigeria strategic and development cooperation.
In his discussion with Nigerian leaders, Mr Ansari has exhorted them to speak out on issues of cross-border terror at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which has been relentlessly used by Pakistan to corner India on the Kashmir issue. In his talks on September 27, the vice-president had conveyed that Nigeria as “an influential member of OIC should speak out at the OIC so that the entire agenda of the 57-nation grouping is not hijacked by any one country.” He conveyed India’s hope that Nigeria’s intervention can help shape “more balanced statements” by the OIC on the Kashmir issue. Many OIC countries, including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar have condemned the terror attack on a military camp in north Kashmir which killed 18 Indian soldiers.
Mr Ansari’s speech at the NDC reinforced India’s pitch that the global fight against terrorism can’t be bogged down in quibbles about definitions, and the world community must discard the segmented approach to rally together against this global scourge. This was an oblique critique of the OIC politics that has become a principal obstacle in the way of the global adoption of the India-backed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
The vice-president also underscored the importance of diplomacy in resolving differences and disputes rather than squandering the nation’s precious resources in military adventurism. Effective diplomacy is an important alternative to excessive defence spending. “Therefore, it’s important to devise methods of effectively participating in international fora, in influencing world opinion and striving to make such mechanisms more representative, more consensual and more effective,” he said.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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