Bypassing OIC to isolate Pakistan: Ansari to seek support of Nigeria & Mali, says OIC is just another club

India is looking to step up its outreach to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries to muster their support against Pakistan-sponsored terror, with Vice-President Hamid Ansari set to take up the issue with the leaders of Nigeria and Mali. However, even as India ratchets up its ongoing diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan in the wake of the Uri terror attack, Mr Ansari sent a subtle but strong message across by underlining that one should not exaggerate the significance of OIC.

Mr Ansari touched down in Abuja on September 26 on a three-day visit to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. Nigeria rolled out the red carpet to welcome Mr Ansari, with Nigeria’s vice-president Yemi Osinbajo personally receiving him at the Abuja International Airport. Dancers dressed in colourful attire welcomed the Vice-President, the first high-level visit from India in the last nine years since then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Nigeria in 2007.

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India’s Africa safari: Why Vice-President Ansari is going to Nigeria, Mali

Nigeria’s India-educated President Muahammadu Buhari is an incorrigible optimist. He is not deterred by narratives of Afro-pessimism or Africa Rising?, sparked by plunging commodity prices and festering violence in swathes of the continent, but is determined to ensure that the rising of Nigeria is real and lasting. A few hundred kilometres away, Mali, ravaged by savage terrorism, is trying to script its own resurgence amid formidable challenges. Against this backdrop, Vice-President Hamid Ansari heads to Nigeria and Mali to chart new pathways of cooperation to aid ongoing national reconstruction in these two important partners of India in West Africa.
Mr Ansari’s visits to Nigeria and Mali (September 26-30) underscore India’s strategic design to expand its footprints in the West Africa region, which had not hitherto loomed high on India’s diplomatic canvas.
Besides enhancing economic ties and development cooperation, the vice-president is expected to focus on imparting a strategic traction to India’s relations with Nigeria and Mali. Intensifying counter-terror cooperation will be on top of the agenda in both Abuja and Bamako.
The vice-president will also be seeking support of Nigeria and Mali, members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which forms the diplomatic support base of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, for India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan in the wake of the terror attack in north Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers.
China’s growing economic presence in West Africa is another strategic imperative for India to raise its game in the region. With a growing convergence of economic and strategic interests, India’s outreach to West Africa and the African continent is set to acquire a new narrative and resonance in days to come.

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