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India, Afghanistan and BD close ranks against Pakistan

August 05, 2016

ISLAMABAD: India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh on Thursday closed their ranks against Pakistan during the 7th meeting of the Saarc interior/ home ministers here.

In his speech, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: “One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone. I also speak for the entire humanity — not just for India or other Saarc members — in urging that in no circumstances should terrorists be eulogized as martyrs. If we are to rid ourselves of terrorism, we will have to genuinely believe that attempts to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists are misleading.”

Rajnath expressed his serious displeasure when Nisar said there was a marked difference between terrorism and freedom struggle.Soon after his departure for New Delhi, Rajnath lodged a complaint with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is expected to speak in parliament on Friday (today).

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the world that Pakistan was committed to working jointly with the Saarc member states in fighting terrorism, corruption and organised crimes.

Delivering his inaugural address to the conference, he said at the national level, Pakistan had made remarkable gains against terrorism through Operation Zarb-e-Azb and effective implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP).

He said these reflected the government’s determination to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from our soil for good.Nawaz reminded that the Saarc region was blessed with tremendous human and natural resources. So, the Saarc can and should provide a platform to optimally harness the regional potential for peace and prosperity of our people.

He said such an approach was in sync with his government’s vision of peace for development and peaceful neighbourhood.Nawaz said Pakistan had always been supportive of initiatives taken by the Saarc to advance its ideals and objectives as enshrined in its charter.

He said Pakistan had also been a strong advocate of stepping up regional efforts to ensure energy security through sharing of indigenous sources.

He said Pakistan shared the perception that connectivity was critical to the progress and prosperity of the region and supports, in principle, road, air, and rail and water connectivity within the region.

“Realisation of the goals and prosperity of the region and supports, in principle, road, air, and rail and water connectivity within the region.  “Realization of the goals and objectives envisaged in Saarc charter is our collective responsibility,” he added. 

 Chairing the meeting, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called on regional countries to differentiate between terrorism and freedom movements sanctified by the UN Security Council.

The meeting was attended by the home ministers of Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka and deputy home ministers of Afghanistan, Maldives and Home Secretary of Nepal.  Bangladesh was represented by its high commissioner to Islamabad.

In an unprecedented move, the interior minister in his capacity as the head of Pakistani delegation made the policy statement. Nisar drew the attention of Saarc member states to the use of brutal force against unarmed civilians engaged in a struggle against foreign occupation.

He pointed out that it was important to respect the fundamental human rights of people and not suppress legitimate freedom struggles in the name of fight against terrorism. “Pakistan itself has been the biggest victim of terrorism and instead of engaging in blame game and taking swipes using terms like

Good Taliban and Bad Taliban at each other we should take time out to reflect and sit down together and try to work out the problems and reservations which we might have towards each other,” Nisar said.

"I think we have come a long way since then and the answer is that we should sit down and resolve our disputes. But, beyond that we must also need to look at the genesis of terrorism and resolution of unresolved disputes is the only way ahead to address these deep fissures that have evolved over decades,” he added.

"I need not go into details. I need not mention whole incidents because the essence of multilateralism should be respected here, but I just like to point out that Pakistan faces terrorism from across its borders and blatant interventions in our internal affairs," Nisar said.

"Such disputes cannot be wished away — they can be resolved only through mutual discussion and using platforms like Saarc. Let us sit together regionally and try and address the issues," he said.

He maintained that Pakistan was ready to engage in any dialogue process based on mutual respect and dignity. “It is for those who put conditions and sub-conditions for initiating dialogue to reconsider and realign their positions.”

He said terrorist activities were not restricted to India, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh and such incidents there are highly condemnable.  "But, it does not mean that hundreds of terror incidents taking place in Pakistan are less condemnable."

“Scores of terrorist incidents taking place in Pakistan are equally condemnable if not more,” he added. Nisar further said the APS attack, Charsadda University terrorist attack and Iqbal Park bombing, where innocent children and school teachers had been killed, could not be ignored.

He mentioned the move to exonerate the perpetrators of terrorist attacks against the Muslim minority and emphasized that those involved in attacks must be brought to justice to let the minorities live in peace.

“Pakistan faces terrorism from across the borders besides blatant interventions in our internal affairs,” he said.  The meeting also focused on a number of areas related to terrorism, narcotics, maritime piracy and other issues.

The meeting commended the efforts of immigration authorities and interior/home secretaries from Saarc member states who met in Islamabad on August 2 and 3. Among others, the ministers approved the recommendations of interior/home secretaries for issuing three-year validity of Saarc visa exemption stickers to the GS Staff working at the Saarc Secretariat.

The ministers updated the forum on respective national initiatives to implement various Saarc conventions including the Saarc Convention on Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Saarc Conventions on Trafficking in Women and Children and Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia.

The meeting also considered the reports of Saarc interior/home secretaries and Saarc Immigration Authorities that were held on August 2-3 in Islamabad. The Sri Lankan delegation offered to host the 8th interior/home ministers and secretaries meeting which was welcomed by the member states.

 Later, addressing a press conference here, Nisar said it was important to respect the fundamental human rights of people and no country could suppress legitimate freedom struggles in the name of fight against terrorism.

“Terrorism has become a buzzword but no country could suppress freedom movements and open fire at innocent unarmed civilians on the pretext of terrorism, he said while referring to the recent escalation of tension in the Indian-Occupied Kashmir which has witnessed brutal atrocities for the last several weeks,” he said.

Nisar said he had drawn the attention of Saarc member states towards the use of brutal force against unarmed civilians, who were engaged in the struggle against foreign occupation. "Any apprehensions about Pakistan were comprehensively cleared in the meeting," he said, adding that it was necessary to bring Pakistan's point of view forward.

"It was necessary to answer Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Pakistan is open to dialogue but with dignity and respect," he said. It was for those who put conditions and sub-conditions for initiating dialogue.

"There is a conflict of opinion on definition of terrorism and many countries are facing the issue of terrorism. However, the difference between freedom movements and terrorism is because of different perspectives of the nations," he said while responding to a question.

The minister said during the meeting the incidents of Mumbai, Dhaka, and Pathankot were mentioned and he reminded that the Army Public School (Peshawar) and Charsadda University terrorist attacks and Iqbal Park (Lahore) blast, where innocent children and school teachers were killed, could not be ignored.

He said terrorist activities were not only restricted to India, Afghanistan or Bangladesh as scores of terrorist incidents, taking place in Pakistan, were equally condemnable. He said personal and nationalist agendas should be kept on the backburner as it would not serve and advance the objectives of the Saarc.

Replying to a question, Nisar pointed out that the meeting was held in a conducive environment and its agenda got completed. He said forums like Saarc were important for initiation of a dialogue. The minister said the meeting also focused on a number of areas related to terrorism, narcotics, maritime piracy and other issues.

The meeting commended the efforts of immigration authorities and interior/home secretaries from the Saarc member states who met in Islamabad on August 2-3.  Bangladesh High Commissioner in Pakistan Tarik Ahsan said his government was determined to break the nexus of terrorism, extremism and radicalisation “at any cost”.

Tarik Ahsan said Bangladesh believes regional cooperation is “an effective way forward”.  Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal skipped the meeting, but the government did not cite any reason.  Dhaka-Islamabad relations have hit a low in recent years over Pakistan’s reactions to Dhaka’s war crimes trial. 

Addressing the ceremony, Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa stressed the need for taking effective measures to tackle narcotics, terrorism, cyber crimes and other transnational crimes. He said Saarc condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations adding that there was a need for effective cooperation among the member countries to combat this menace.

                        

 

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