On the sixth anniversary of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday sought concerted efforts to combat terrorism and trans- national crimes which were identified as a major challenge by most of the SAARC leaders at the bloc’s 18th Summit.
“We feel the endless pain of lost lives. Let us work together to fulfill the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes,” the Prime Minister said, remembering the victims of Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead and hundreds of others injured.
During his nearly 30-minute speech at the Summit, Modi echoed the views of Presidents of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, which described the menace of terrorism as “fundamental challenge, both regionally and internationally.”
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said neutralising of terrorists groups in Sri Lanka in May 2009 vastly changed the environment in the region.
“Terrorism still remains fundamental security challenge both regionally and internationally. Sri Lanka cannot remain complacent,” he said, adding concerted efforts are required to deal with the menace.
He said that it should be ensured that “radical views of few and misplaced agenda of some others do not undermine the security and well-being of large majority of peace loving people in the region.”
Refereeing to a recent suicide attack during a volleyball match that killed over 50 people in his country, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai strongly criticised those countries which provide safe havens to terrorists.
“Collapse or failure of states result in ungoverned spaces that provide breeding ground for criminal enterprises in efforts of violence to form symbiotic relationship… The relation becomes lethal when state actors embrace and sponsor these non-state actors provided them with resources and sanctuaries and use them as proxies in their competition against others,” the Afghan leader said.
Underlining the need for united effort to curb terrorism, Ahmadzai asked all the SAARC leaders to work sincerely to eliminate the menace and assured that Afghanistan “will not allow our territories to be used against any of our neighbours. We will not permit anybody to conduct proxy wars on our soil.”
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay also called for collective efforts to curb the scourge of terrorism.
While Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did talk about “dispute-free” South Asia where instead of fighting among themselves, the countries should fight against poverty and other social issues, there was no mention of terrorism in his nearly 15-minute speech.
Modi also outlined various initiatives in key sectors of health, science, visa regimes and connectivity for the SAARC region as he pitched to turn South Asia of “flowering hope into a rich field of peace and prosperity” by collective efforts which, he said, were “more urgent than in South Asia; and, nowhere else is it so modest.”