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Rejecting criticism that it failed to secure a reference to cross-border terrorism in the BRICS declaration, Government today said the Summit recognised that there was no bigger global challenge than state-sponsored and state-protected terrorism and that it cannot be "business as usual" on this front. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the threat of terror "featured strongly" in the narrative of the recently concluded Summit in Goa and there was recognition that the international community can only ignore it at its peril. In clear reference to Pakistan, Swaraj said there is a need to extract costs from those who sponsor, support and provide sanctuary to terror networks besides continuing to make "false distinction" between "good and bad terrorists". In a veiled comparison to stark contrast between BIMSTEC countries and Pakistan, Swaraj said the regional bloc today represents the "polar opposite" of a terrorism promoting polity. Swaraj used the strong words during her an address at the BRICS media forum here. "There is a developing consensus that it cannot be business as usual. We must be prepared to extract costs for those who sponsor and support terrorists, who provide them sanctuary, and who, despite their own claimed victimhood, continue to make the false distinction between good and bad terrorists. "BRICS has always been global in its approach and today, there is no bigger global challenge than state-sponsored and state-protected terrorism," she said. In an obvious reference to Pakistan blocking several pacts on transport and connectivity in SAARC, Swaraj indicated that India would work closely with the regional grouping of BIMSTEC -- Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation -- whose members include Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. "There cannot be a greater contrast with those who reject even trade and connectivity for political reasons," she said. In last SAARC summit in Kathmandu, Pakistan had stalled signing of a key transportation pact which was strongly pushed by India. On deliberations at the BRICS, Swaraj said there was a sharp realisation that global development and prosperity was very much dependent on continued peace and security. "Terrorism was universally recognised as a key threat to stability, progress and development.
Consequently, it featured strongly in the conference narrative and its eventual outcome.
"Indeed, what we saw was not just an understanding of the dangers posed by terrorism to the economic aspirations of the world but a growing recognition that this has now become a truly global challenge that the international community can only ignore at its peril," she said.
There was criticism after consensus eluded on reference to cross-border terror in BRICS declaration with opposition Congress calling it an "abject failure" of Modi Government.
Without naming any country, Swaraj said there has always been an overarching political context for the BRICS meetings which essentially underlines that a serious global discourse cannot be the "preserve" of a few countries with a "narrow agenda". "We have always looked upon BRICS as a template for a new approach to global governance in the 21st century. The five nations represent the voice of the changing world and our approach to global issues signifies a convergence across different continents on the opportunities and challenges that await us," she said. On India's chairmanship of BRICS, Swaraj said, "We took the BRICS outside the conference room and endeavoured to instill it in popular thinking." "In Goa we have strengthened the institutional foundation of the BRICS and set it on the path of seeking collective solutions which will not only help propel the BRICS nations forward but also be a voice of hope, peace and prosperity for the entire world," Swaraj said. Talking about major initiatives by BRICS, she said the Summit represented a further advancement in terms of the breadth and focus of its discussions, adding the grouping has evolved over the years. "Initially, its deliberations concentrated more on economic and financial issues. But over the years, it has broadened to cover larger global issues, even as it has promoted the creation of BRICS institutions and mechanisms. "Key initiatives like a BRICS Rating Agency that can complement the New Development Bank, or the Railways Research Network and an Agriculture Research Platform that will allow us to leverage our specific strengths for mutual benefit are tangible goals that we believe can take the group forward," she said.