After SAARC diplomacy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who invited heads of neighbouring countries to his swearing-in ceremony, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to hold talks with his counterparts from SAARC nations at Kathmandu early next month to discuss security challenges in the region and the implications of the growing Iraq crisis.
The increasing influence of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate in the region, where militants groups from the SAARC region are leaning towards the Sunni militant outfit, is going to be on top of the agenda, an official said. The last meeting between home ministers of SAARC nations was held in 2012 in Maldives. Since then, due to elections in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India, a schedule could not be worked out, the official added.
A proposal to sign the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) with neighbouring countries is also being prepared, which will be presented during the conference. Presently, India does not have an MLAT with Nepal and in criminal matters, agencies of both countries have to depend on judicial requests.
The agendas will also include discussion on matters relating to the implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances. Singh is also likely to highlight the rising crime against women and children who are trafficked to neighbouring countries. “A mechanism to strengthen cooperation on international trafficking is likely to be proposed,” said an official.
In its proposal, India will also highlight the case of international trafficking reported in Mumbai last year where three Bangladeshi victims were rescued and eight traffickers were arrested.
Singh will also discuss matters related to maritime security and piracy and a proposal to strengthen the steps required to be taken by the member states is being drafted, officials said.