A day after the BRICS failed to reach a consensus on including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in its Goa declaration, the BIMSTEC countries Monday, endorsing the Indian stand without naming Pakistan, slammed states which “support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups”.
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The BIMSTEC also said “there should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs” — a clear reference to Hizbul militant Burhan Wani who was killed by security forces in Kashmir on July 8 and later hailed as a “martyr” by Pakistan.
The BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat 2016 Outcome Document issued Monday stated: “We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against states who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues. There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.”
Of the seven countries in BIMSTEC, five are part of the SAARC grouping and two are from South East Asia. The BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
The BIMSTEC document also strongly condemned the “recent barbaric terror attacks in the region” — a reference to attacks in Uri and Dhaka.
“Recognising that terrorism continues to remain the ‘single most significant threat’ to peace and stability in our region, we reiterate our strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stress that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. We condemn in the strongest terms the recent barbaric terror attacks in the region. We recognise the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation,” it stated.
The statement also said that the countries expressed their determination to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations.
On the reference to Burhan Wani, the Ministry of External Affairs’ Secretary (East) Preeti Saran said the grouping was not looking at any specific individual, but each leader recognised terrorism as a scourge. “They were united in their approach… terrorism has no boundaries, there are no good or bad terrorists and terrorists are not martyrs.”
She said the BIMSTEC leaders agreed that there will be an annual meeting of the NSAs from BIMSTEC countries.
The BIMSTEC statement said the leaders committed to expedite the signing of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and early ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called terrorism as Pakistan’s “favourite child” at the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit.
“Terrorism, radicalisation, and transnational crimes pose grave threats to each of us. Geographical barriers and borders pose no limitations on those who wish to harm our societies. They not only threaten the lives of our nationals; they also block our march towards economic prosperity. In South Asia and BIMSTEC, all nation states, barring one, are motivated to pursue a path of peace, development and economic prosperity for its people,” Modi said.
“Unfortunately, this country in India’s neighbourhood embraces and radiates the darkness of terrorism. Terrorism has become its favourite child. And, the child in turn has come to define the fundamental character and nature of its parent,” he said.
Modi said the time for condemning state-sponsored terrorism is long gone. “It is time to stand up and act, and act decisively. It is, therefore, imperative for BRICS and BIMSTEC to create a comprehensive response to secure our societies against the perpetrators of terror. To those who nurture the philosophy of terror, and seek to de-humanise mankind, we must send a clear message to mend their ways or be isolated in the civilised world,” he said.