In a veiled but obvious reference to Pakistan, influential regional bloc BIMSTEC on Monday called for “strong” measures against nations which encourage, support and finance terror groups, provide sanctuaries to them and “falsely” extol their virtues, seen as an endorsement of India’s effort to corner Islamabad on terrorism.
There should not be any glorification of terrorists as “martyrs”, the grouping of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal said, indirectly referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling slain Hizbul terrorist Burhan a martyr.
The bloc said fight against terrorism should not only confine to disrupting and eliminating terror groups and their networks but states supporting them must also be punished.
An Outcome Document detailing deliberations among the BIMSTEC leaders at their retreat here last night, said they condemned the recent “barbaric terror” attacks in the region in strongest terms, seen as a reference to Pathankot and Uri strikes.
“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 which encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues,” the grouping said in the document issued on Monday.
It said the leaders stressed on urgent measures to counter terrorism.
“There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs. We recognise the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation. We express our determination to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among our law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations,” it said.
India has been scaling up efforts to isolate Pakistan in the wake of the Uri attack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing BRICS and BIMSTEC summits on Sunday, called Pakistan a “mother ship” of global terrorism and said the menace has become its “favourite child”.
The strong position of BIMSTEC in dealing with terror assumes significance as it comes after consensus eluded on reference to cross-border terror in BRICS declaration.
“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,” BIMSTEC said.
It said the leaders expressed commitment to expedite the signing of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and to early ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
The bloc also deliberated on a range of issues like ways to improve connectivity, enhance trade, promote energy cooperation and tourism.
The group said the leaders agreed to explore the possibility of having a BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement to improve connectivity. The decision comes in the backdrop of Pakistan stalling a similar pact among the SAARC countries last year.
To boost energy cooperation, the group also decided to expedite the signing of the BIMSTEC MoU on Grid Interconnection.