SAARC pledges coordinated anti-terror action

New Delhi, June 26 (Calcutta Tube) India Saturday pitched for ‘fullest cooperation’ among the SAARC countries to combat terror coordinated action that could include real-time intelligence sharing.

The meeting of the interior ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) also decided to consider Pakistan’s proposal for creating SAARCPOL, an institution on the lines of Interpol.

Underlining the ‘serious security situation’ in South Asia, Home Minister P. Chidambaram exhorted the eight SAARC members to share information ‘on potential terrorists and planned acts of terrorism’.

‘The increasing threat of terrorism poses a major challenge to the maintenance of peace and security and adversely affects economic development in our region,’ Chidambaram said at the conference here.

‘We can all undoubtedly agree that the South Asian region is faced with a serious security situation,’ he said.

Home ministers from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives, besides India and Pakistan, participated in the conference to focus on security and counter-terror cooperation among the countries.

Stressing that only the ‘fullest cooperation’ will enable SAARC countries ‘to effectively tackle the grave threat of terrorism in our region’, Chidambaram asked whether the existing conventions have been effective.

‘We also need to cooperate with each other in sharing information on potential terrorists and planned acts of terrorism, and all other forms of criminal activities in order to create a more secure environment,’ he said.

‘It is incumbent upon us to ensure that the instruments and the resources at our disposal are put to the best possible use in our fight against terrorism,’ he added.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the existing Sri Lanka-based SAARC Terrorism Offences Monitoring Desk would be bolstered to facilitate real time sharing of intelligence.

The SAARC states will work out modalities to strengthen networking to share information on terrorist groups and individuals.

The SAARC ministerial statement adopted at the meeting noted that the member states had underscored their ‘commitment to apprehend and prosecute or extradite persons connected, directly or indirectly, with the commissions of acts of terrorism’.

Underlining their commitment to strengthen SAARC’s regime against terrorism, the ministers emphasised the importance of a coordinated and concerted response to the menace.

The ministers pledged to implement measures against the ‘organisation, instigation, financing and facilitation’ of terrorist activities.

They also stressed on adopting administrative and legal measures to ensure that the territories of the SAARC states are ‘not used for terrorist installations or training camps or for the preparation or organisation of terrorist acts intended to be committed against other states or their citizens’.

The ministers agreed to ensure that ‘nationals and entities’ of SAARC states who commit, facilitate or participate in commission of terror acts are ‘appropriately punished’.

Acknowledging the linkages between terrorism, illegal trafficking of drugs, human trafficking, smuggling of firearms and threats to maritime security remained a ‘serious concern,’ the ministers said these assorted problems would be addressed in a comprehensive manner.

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