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New Delhi: As India hopes to engage with African governments seeking their support for a seat at the high diplomatic tables and an alternate investment destination for Indian capital, diplomats on Tuesday continued to struggle to include a condemnation to “state sponsored terrorism” in the final political document, to be adopted at the summit-level meeting on Thursday.
While inaugurating the ministerial conference, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj asserted that the scourge of terrorism was rising in view of the fast-growing linkages of terrorist groups across the globe, strongly advocating a stepped-up cooperation through intelligence exchange and training with 54 African countries.
However, over the past two days, since the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) began here, both at the meetings of senior officials as well as of foreign ministers, who are shaping the two outcome documents, North African countries in particular objected to the term “state sponsored terrorism” and instead confined to condemn “the menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism.”
India has been accusing Pakistan of using terrorism as a tool of its foreign policy and inclusion of state-sponsored terrorism would have been a diplomatic coup, even though no country was mentioned in the document, which is still under preparation. African ministers and officials said targeting any state for promoting terrorism requires a credible and irrefutable evidence.
Foreign minister of Uganda Sam K Kutesa almost took Pakistani line by emphasising on addressing the root causes of conflicts. “We must address the root causes of conflict among us. We have to deepen our integration, including through developing cross-border infrastructure,” he said.
Swaraj hoped that the international community will cooperate with urgency to adopt the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism. Many African countries, particularly Cameroon, asked for India’s assistance in capacity building in defence sector to allow them to take on the terrorist outfit Boko Haram.
But what Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be confronting most over the next two days is complaints from African nations on under-utilisation and lack of monitoring of aid New Delhi had committed during past two summits in 2008 and 2011. Further many countries wanted more concessions in the line of credit (LoC) since debt ratio has increased and in view of the new IMF conditions. In the last decade, a total of almost $9 billion in concessional credit has been approved for nearly 140 projects in more than 40 African countries by India. So far only 60 projects have been completed.
Out of nearly $ 7 billion concessional credit announced during last two summits just $3.5 billion worth projects have been realised. The foreign ministers asked for putting in place clear mechanism to support implementation.
Ugandan minister said it was important to think about setting time-frames for implementation of commitments. Foreign minister of Burkina Faso Moussa B Nebie was even more scathing by concluding his speech saying that two projects – a female training centre and a vocational training centre – committed during last summits were strugglling to start due to complexity of procedures, lack of commitment and absence of regular monitoring of the result framework.
But, still most of the delegates wanted India to take a pro-active interest in African continent as they felt more connected. A few visiting leaders also have studied in India like Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud (Barkatullah University, Bhopal) and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Tamil Nadu).
Swaraj also made a pitch for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council for India as well as for African continent. “Although Indians and Africans comprise nearly 2.5 billion people, our nations continue to be excluded from appropriate representation in the institutions of global governance.
Noting that over 1,80,000 Indian troops have participated in UN peacekeeping missions, more than from any other country, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced that India will further scale up its participation in UN