SAARC moot denounces terrorism
27 June, 2010
ISLAMABAD: The ministerial meeting of the interior/home ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) ended here on Saturday, adopting unanimously a statement denouncing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and pledging to join hands to fight this menace which has become a global threat.
Secretary General Saarc Sheel Kant Sharma addressing at a press conference after the moot, said that the Saarc conference expressed deep concern at the continuing scourge of terrorism afflicting the region which has caused extensive loss of human life, destruction and damage to property.
He said it was agreed in the ministerial-level meeting that all the member countries shall extend cooperation to each other against terrorism while remaining within the purview of national laws and procedures and international commitments and following the principle of non-interference and non-intervention in each others’ affairs.
The Saarc secretary-general said that the South Asian University involves student from all Saarc countries. “I will ask about the visa problem from the committee. The Indian authorities have also assured that the Pakistani students will be treated similarly as the students from other Saarc countries,” he said.
He appreciated the Saarc countries’ interior/home minister and said that this was another level of comfort among the Saarc ministers that is evident of the fact that there was no split among them.
To a question, he said Pakistan and India have always shown maturity to keep intact Saarc platform despite their differences, adding that both the countries have been supporting the Saarc decisions.
He said the next meeting of Saarc interior/home ministers would be held in Bhutan next year, prior to this meeting the technical sessions would be held at the end of this year.
He read out “Islamabad Saarc Ministerial Statement on Cooperation against terrorism” passed at the end of the three-day moot.
It said that “recognising that terrorism poses a serious threat to the peace and security of our region;
Expressing deep concern at the continuing scourge of terrorism afflicting the region which has caused extensive loss of human life, destruction and damage to property;
Taking note of the fact that peace and harmony, friendly and good neighbourly relations, and cooperation and prosperity of the region are being threatened by terrorism;
Recognising that sovereign equality, mutual respect and the principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of member states consistent with the Saarc Charter, shall remain the basis of our cooperation in the war against terror;
We the interior/home ministers of Saarc member states today [Saturday] in Islamabad:
1. Recall and uphold the Colombo Ministerial Declaration on cooperation in Combating Terrorism adopted by the 31 session of the council of ministers of February 2009.
2. Reiterate our commitment to strengthen the Saarc regime against terrorism.
3. Reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen cooperation to fight and eradicate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
4. Emphasise the importance of a coordinated and concerted response to combat terrorism
5. Underline our commitment to implement measures against the organisation, instigation, financing and facilitation of a terrorist activity
6. Reiterate to take appropriate measures, administrative and legal, to ensure that our respective territories 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.
7. Express our resolve to ensure that our nationals and entities within our territories that commit or attempt to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts are appropriately punished
8. Underscore our commitment to apprehend and prosecute or extradite persons connected, directly or indirectly, with the commission of acts of terrorism.
9. Reiterate that we shall contribute to the efforts in the UN General Assembly for early adoption of the UN Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism
10. Emphasise that linkages between terrorism, the illegal trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substance, illegal trafficking of persons and firearms and threats to maritime security remain a matter of serious concern and reiterate our commitment to address these problems in a comprehensive manner.
11. Emphasise the need to strengthen regional cooperation to fight terrorism and transnational organised crime and reaffirm our commitment implement the Saarc Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol and Saarc Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
12. Underscore the importance of the Saarc Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and call for its ratification.
13. Our respective countries shall extend cooperation to each other against terrorism while remaining within the purview of our national laws and procedures and our international commitments and following the principle of non-interference and non-intervention in each others affairs.”
Addressing a press conference Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that he had a ‘very productive meeting’ with his Indian counterpart, P Chidambaram, and reached consensus that the major issue confronting the whole region was terrorism.
“The whole region of Saarc is suffering from it. Some are suffering heavily while some comparatively less. So the resolution, which has been passed today [Saturday], mainly concerns terrorism. All members are united against the terrorists and are eager to work for humanity. A few suggestions put forth by Pakistan have been accepted such as promoting the interfaith harmony, preventing the use of religion as a tool to promote terrorism and violence as well as to put in a place on the lines of ‘Interpol’ for the Saarc region and be named as ‘Saarcpole’, said Rehman Malik, who was earlier elected as the chairman by the participants of the Saarc ministerial meeting.
However, he added that setting up ‘Saarcpole’ is only a suggestion. “The member countries will examine it and it may need more serious working and deliberations before giving the idea a complete shape. As far as the police are concern we need to build and develop the capacity, which is being done and those members states which need help from other states would be extended the required help and assistance. For example the Maldives has some concern on the sea piracy and of course they have their own policy. So, definitely we can work on it as to further strengthen it,” Malik said.
He agreed with the Indian home minister that as the terrorists are nobody’s friends, so everybody need to fight against them. “I agree with my Indian counterpart that they (terrorists) have no boundaries and no religion. We have to deal with them with an iron hand together. The Saarc countries should adopt a common strategy against this common enemy. I hope we will be able to do that,” Malik asserted.
He lauded the role of Pakistan Army in the fight against terror and for offering great services and sacrifices to prevent these terrorists and terrorism from fanning out to other parts of the country and the whole region.
“Had it not been for the sacrifices and brave efforts of the Pakistan Army it would have been difficult to have this press conference here today; they (Taliban) were all out to go for Islamabad. Just imagine if this country was taken over by the Taliban who would have been the next? It could have been India, Bangladesh and of course it would not have stopped there. I salute my land forces, I like to salute my nation. We have done well and will carry on till the demise of Taliban,” Rehman Malik said.
Regarding a question about the issuance of visas to the students aiming for studying in the ‘South Asian University’ Rehman Malik said that there were some reservation that have been brought to his notice. “I will speak to my friend Chadambarm in the next meeting and we will resolve this issue,” he added.
Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said that all the Saarc ministers and their interventions mentioned terrorism is their first and foremost concern. That has been reflected in the statement adopted by the Saarc ministers and to that extent I think terrorism is a single most important concern of whole the interior ministers of Saarc countries.
Answering a question regarding as to what transpired in his meeting with the Pakistan interior minister, the Indian home minister said: “It was a good meeting. We spoke with each other one on one for pretty long time. We spoke directly to each other and I am confident that something good will emerge after that meeting. So lets try to remain positive,” he said.
Answering another question, he said that according to his knowledge seven people are being prosecuted in the case (Mumbai attack). “Now as to how far that prosecution has proceeded, it is for the Pakistan Government to say. I understand that the trial that was scheduled today [Saturday] has been adjourned by a week. We think that more people may be behind the 26/11 attack and more people should be prosecuted. That point has been made to the Pakistan government and as I said I wish to remain positive on the outcome of the meeting with Mr. Rehman Malik,” the Indian home minister said.
To another question, Chidambaram said that whatever was the process up to 26/11 2008 was interrupted by 26/11, 2008. “Now we are trying to pick the threads again. The foreign ministers are talking to each other. The prime ministers have met. When home and interior ministers will meet, obviously the focus will be on terrorism. As I said we spoke directly to each other and I remain positive that something good will come out of that meeting,” he said.