India today pushed for including “sustained support for terrorism and radical extremism” as one of the grounds for disqualification of a member state from the Commonwealth. There are currently eight grounds on which the Commonwealth can take action against a member country, including violation of democratic values and good governance. At the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meet in London, India stressed that this must be expanded to nine, to include “sustained support for terrorism and radical extremism”, an official source said.
India was also successful in keeping action against Bangladesh off the agenda against Pakistan’s concerted efforts at the CMAG meeting, where India is being represented by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar.
“In a way, this was a big victory. There was an attempt to bring Bangladesh on to the agenda (for alleged human rights violations) by our friends on the west (Pakistan), but we managed to keep it from being raised,” the source said.
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India will also play a key role with the Maldives, which had left the Commonwealth last year after CMAG had put it on notice for undermining democratic institutions.
It was agreed at today’s meeting that regional countries should continue to engage with the island nation to try and bring it back into the fold of the Commonwealth.
Pakistan ruled itself out from playing a role until the Maldives government improves its conduct.
However, the Indian side was in agreement with other member countries to play the role of interlocutor and continue the process of dialogue in the region.
The central message from the Indian side was of a more “people-centric” approach within the Commonwealth, with a focus on development and poverty elimination.
“The Commonwealth should not just be an exercise in meetings between governments. It must become more people-centric,” Akbar had told PTI.
The CMAG is held for ministers from the 52 Commonwealth countries to raise important issues and action points for the benefit of the organisation’s membership.
Asked if India had specific issues it wanted to raise, the minister said, “We have no hostility towards any one. We believe that the Commonwealth is a values-based organisation and should really keep on doing what its name suggests.”
“It should increase the things that it has in common, rather than reduce, and certainly it should add something to the wealth of this group and find ways of cooperation and creating meaning for the people who live in the Commonwealth,” he said.