Need to deal terrorism in comprehensive manner: Vice President

Bamako: In the wake of the surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC, India today asserted that international and cross-border terrorism should be dealt with in a comprehensive manner and called for early adoption of a global treaty on terrorism.

Noting that terrorist actions cannot be justified on any grounds, Vice President Hamid Ansari said India face the threat of terrorism from across its borders.

“India condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and is of view that international and cross-border terrorism should be dealt in a comprehensive manner. We feel that with a view to strengthening international normative regime on terrorism, an early adoption of the CCIT (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism) is essential,” he told the National Assembly of the Republic of Mali.

Seeking Mali’s cooperation in this regard, he said, “As we move forward, individually and together, to build a better future for our people and societies, we must also reckon with the impediments to development. “Foremost among them is the scourge of terrorism, regionally and globally. The spreading tide of extremism and terrorism is a threat we both face,” he said.

Ansari said as the world becomes more globalised and inter-connected, the salience of global cross-cutting issues is rising and these issues cannot be resolved by a handful of powerful countries or even through regional efforts. “They include issues such as climate change but also global public health challenges, drug-trafficking, trafficking of humans, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. There are newer domains of cyber security and space security.”

Terming Mali as an ancient seat of learning and a nation that was for centuries a melting pot of cultural traditions and influences, and home to great scholars, musicians and historians, he said “in recent years we have sought to close the distance that separates us physically”.

He said his visit, the first high-level one to Mali from India, takes place at a time of excellent bilateral relations between the two countries. “My visit comes at a time when the world is acknowledging the India growth story. This economic growth provides India more resources not just for its own development, but also more financial leverage in expanding the scope of its engagement with emerging growth poles of the world like Africa.

“It comes at a time when Africa, awash with the spirit of democracy, has consolidated its control over its resources and accelerated its march towards securing a prosperous future for its people.”

Ansari said India and Mali neither has a transactional partnership nor does New Delhi merely return to Africa what was earlier robbed from it.

“Our approach to partnership with Africa is driven by the aim of empowerment, capacity building, human resource development, access to Indian market, and support for Indian investments in Africa, so that the people of Africa have the capacity to make their own free choices and the capability to shoulder the responsibility for their continent’s development. Our relationship with Africa is unique and does not need any point of reference,” Ansari said.

He said India-Africa partnership is a two-way street. “Africa’s development in recent years, a result of African vision and leadership, has been impressive. There are many inspiring models and examples of African success stories in sustainable development and empowerment of people, especially youth and women that we could do well to emulate.”

Ansari said India will always work in accordance with the requirements and priorities of its friends in Africa.

“They must become more democratic, inclusive and representative of our world. Unfortunately, few institutions have that character today. Many do not yet give voice to Africa or the world’s largest democracy, constituting one-sixth of humanity.”

According to the Vice President, who will conclude his five-day, two-nation tour of Nigeria and Mali today, the African impact on India is found in “our genetic make-up, cultural and linguistic traditions, our artefacts, gastronomic choices, and our common world view”.

He said the purpose of his speech is not to talk “about our glorious past but to share with you a vision of the future, a future that is peaceful and prosperous and where India and Africa stand shoulder to shoulder claiming their rightful destinies and justice for our peoples”.

As two countries that have demonstrated their commitment to democratic values, India and Mali share unique bonds of trust and mutual understanding, he said, adding “Our shared values and synergies have translated into longstanding friendship and fruitful cooperation.”

He expressed happiness that democracy has been restored and the democratic institutions are being strengthened. “As a friend and partner, we are aware of the recent challenges faced by the government and people of Mali. We have been a strong votary for restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Mali and preservation of its territorial integrity.

“We welcome the signing of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, and hope that it will lead to unity, preservation of territorial integrity, lasting peace, development and prosperity. My government appreciates the wisdom of Malian leadership that facilitated the signing of the agreement.

“In India, we believe that political issues should be resolved through ‘ballot’ and not ‘bullet’. We encourage all stakeholders to eschew violence and to embrace peaceful and democratic means to resolve political issues,” he said.

“We see ourselves as a partner in Mali’s reconstruction, economic development and growth. Government of India has extended 7 Lines of Credit, worth USD 353 million to Mali. A large project of USD 150 million for power transmission, connecting Bamako and Sikasso via Bougouni, is being finalised.”

“However, trade and investment levels are still below the immense potential that exists. We are confident that continued stability and peace would encourage Indian companies to look at Mali as an attractive investment destination for the mutual benefit of peoples of our two countries.”

“We look forward to enhancing our cooperation and exchange in the culture and educational sector with Mali. We were deeply pained when some extremist elements tried to desecrate and destroy the cultural treasures in the famed and historic city of Timbuktu.

“The government of India strongly condemns the destruction of heritage sites and places of immense cultural value to entire humankind by extremists and is ready to support Mali’s efforts to revive and restore the rich glory of Timbuktu,” Ansari said.

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