BJP manifesto promises global anti-terrorism alliance

BJP manifesto promises global anti-terrorism alliance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah, greet each other before releasing their party's election manifesto. (Reuters)

The Bharatiya Janata Party promised in its manifesto released on Monday that if it was allowed to remain in power for five more years, it would work towards establishing a “Comity of Nations against International Terrorism” as a voluntary multi-lateral forum based on the principles of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). 

The BJP's manifesto indicates that if the party continued to lead the government in New Delhi after the Lok Sabha polls, India would no longer wait for the UNGA to adopt the convention. It would bring like-minded nations together to build a bloc to coordinate global war on terrorism.

“We are committed to taking concrete steps on international forums against countries and organizations supporting terrorism, and we will take all necessary measures to isolate such countries and organizations on the global stage,” the BJP said in its poll-manifesto.

The BJP manifesto has no reference to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). However, it refers to the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) – a bloc comprising seven landlocked countries dependent on Bay of Bengal for maritime purposes. The manifesto vows to extensively leverage forums like the BIMSTEC. 

Foreign policy university

The party also promised to establish a full-fledged first-of-its-kind University of Foreign Policy to focus on academic study and research on foreign policy and geopolitical issues relevant to India, and would help train diplomats of India and the nations friendly to India.

The BJP promises to create an "International Space Technology Alliance" for better coordination and cooperation on issues related to space technology in order to ensure that the benefits of the space technology reach all, especially the smaller countries.

What is Comity of Nations against International Terrorism?

In 1996, India had proposed the adoption of the CCIT at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The UN is yet to adopt it, as the negotiations over the draft of the convention at the Sixth Committee of the international organisation could not make progress in the past 23 years.

The differences among the UN member nations over the definition of terrorism have led to the impasse. Pakistan has been lobbying hard to dilute the draft proposed by India, by seeking to add qualifiers to the definition of terrorism, seeking to exclude from its ambit what it describes as "fight for right of self-determination".

New Delhi has been routinely calling upon the international community to help end the impasse over the proposed CCIT at the UNGA, particularly after the major attacks carried out in India by the terrorist outfits based in Pakistan.

After the attack on Indian Army camp at Uri in northern Kashmir in September 2016, New Delhi decided against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Islamabad for the SAARC summit to be hosted by Pakistan Government two months later.

Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh rallied behind India and wrote to Nepal – currently the chair of the bloc – that the regional situation was not conducive to hold the summit. Maldives too joined the bandwagon later, thus forcing postponement of the summit indefinitely.

While the impasse over the SAARC continued since 2016, New Delhi focussed more on the BIMSTEC, which comprises Myanmar and Thailand, apart from five of the eight SAARC nations – India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.