India satisfied with CHOGM outcome: Ansari

October 31st, 2011 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani On Board Air India One, Oct 31 (IANS) India returns with a feeling of satisfaction from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, having managed to keep the 54-nation grouping focused on the development agenda, Vice President Hamid Ansari said Monday.

Dismissing the general perception that the three-day meeting was a failure because it did not accept the reform agenda set by some countries, Ansari, who headed the Indian delegation at CHOGM, said the Commonwealth has been an organisation that has evolved slowly and could not be pushed into “instant” action.

“We reiterated our perspective on institutions - that we needed to strengthen existing institutions rather than create new ones,” Ansari told reporters on board his special aircraft on his way home, in a clear reference to the effort by some developed nations to push through the creation of a Commissioner for Human Rights.

The contentious recommendation was contained in a report by an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) comprising civil society members, and some member-nations had sought to link its acceptance to the success of CHOGM 2011.

While some of the EPG recommendations have been accepted, others have been kept aside for further discussions, with officials indicating that the opposition to them was so widespread that they were unlikely to be adopted.

In fact, dispelling the perception that only some countries - including India, Sri Lanka and South Africa - were against the creation of the Commissioner’s office, an Indian official said that over 30 of the 54 Commonwealth nations were opposed to the move.

From the Indian perspective, Ansari said, the delegation had achieved its immediate goals, especially in getting CHOGM to back New Delhi’s position on terrorism and piracy, and in getting Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma a fresh four-year term.

“We wanted a return of focus on the development agenda, and if you see the communique, that is very much there,” the vice president said.

Ansari said that India would continue to support and strengthen Commonwealth Connect, a New Delhi initiative to increase information sharing among member-nations, and would also announce more scholarships under the Commonwealth Scholarship Programme.

New Delhi pushed for a contemporary development agenda that helped keep the focus on issues such as food security and health, Ansari said, adding that the delegation also wanted a stress on engagement with the least developed countries.

“If you see the communique, all these concerns of ours have been addressed in detail,” Ansari noted, adding that Indian priorities going into the meeting had been addressed.

Ansari said he had a cordial meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during CHOGM’s informal Retreat session.

“In fact, when we made the case for a second term for the secretary general, it was Gilani who seconded the proposal,” Ansari said.

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