Endorsing India's effort to corner Pakistan on terror, regional grouping BIMSTEC has said fight against the menace should not only be confined to disrupting and eliminating terror networks, but must also take strong measures against states supporting terrorists and falsely extolling their virtues.
An Outcome Document detailing deliberations by leaders of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal at their retreat here last night, said they condemned in strongest terms the recent "barbaric terror" attacks in the region, 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 today.
It said the leaders stressed on urgent measures to counter terrorism.
"There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs. We recognize the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization. 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 here yesterday, 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.
To boost energy cooperation, the group also decided to expedite the signing of the BIMSTEC MoU on Grid Interconnection besides taking steps for early operationalisation of the BIMSTEC Energy Centre.
"Given the high potential of energy sources in the region particularly renewable and clean energy sources, we agree to accelerate our efforts to develop a comprehensive plan for energy cooperation with a view to augment interconnectivity and promote regional energy trade," the document said.
The grouping also expressed commitment for early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area negotiations and directed the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and Working Groups to expedite the finalisation of related agreements.
"We also direct the TNC to expedite the negotiations on the agreements on services and investment. We agree to take concrete steps to enhance trade facilitation. We also agree to offer special and differential treatment for Least Developed Countries for their integration into the regional economy," it said.
It also decided to have closer cooperation in disaster management through joint exercises, sharing of information including early warning system, adoption of preventive measures, joint action on relief and rehabilitation.
"We recognize the enormous potential that the development of the blue economy holds for our region and agree to explore ways to deepen our cooperation in areas such as aquaculture, hydrography, seabed mineral exploration and coastal shipping," it said.
Recognising the need for development, access and availability of technology--including for SMEs--for promoting sustainable development across sectors, the group agreed for early finalisation of the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility in Sri Lanka.
Acknowledging the civilizational, historical and cultural linkages in the region, the group particularly decided to encourage the development of Buddhist Tourist Circuit and Temple Tourist Circuit.