South Asia facing new threats of terrorism: Home Minister Rajnath
KATHMANDU: India on Friday voiced concern over the new threats of terrorism and violence posed to South Asia especially after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan this year and asked SAARC countries to chalk out strategies to check radical groups and extremist ideologies.
Addressing the sixth meeting of SAARC Interior and Home Ministers here, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said South Asian countries need to carefully assess the impact on the entire region of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.“We all share a common and indeed vital stake in peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan. We are naturally concerned by new threats of extremism, terrorism and violence being held out to South Asian countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which cannot but raise concerns,” he said.
Mr. Singh said groups with radical and extremist ideologies do pose threats across national boundaries, in this volatile security environment and these groups even have no compunction in issuing threats publicly against neighbouring and regional countries.He said a major issue that concerns all South Asian nations is terrorism, which is driven by internal, regional and international factors, within and across national boundaries.
Mr. Singh said there was sea change in the strategic environment in the neighbourhood with the emergence of a new dispensation in Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.“The international community has lent unprecedented support to the democratically elected Government of Afghanistan. It is our hope that this will continue,” he said.
Most NATO troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year as the US-led war effort against the Taliban winds down.The Home Minister asked the SAARC member countries to ponder over how to chalk out strategies to deal with the menace of terrorism which involves not just violent activities but also economic destabilisation.
“Moreover, it is imperative that all South Asian states should introduce legislation that enables stringent punishment of individuals, organisations and publications that advocate and incite terrorism and violence, across national boundaries,” he said.
The Home Minister said India’s focus is on the need for countries to adopt comprehensive enabling legislation and also for the inclusion of offences under domestic law, strengthening extradition procedures and providing courts effective jurisdiction to prosecute offenders, when extradition is not granted.“Some member states are yet to ratify the Convention on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters, which was signed in 2008. I would urge them to do so to enable the widest possible mutual legal assistance in criminal matters,” he said.
Mr. Singh said New Delhi was committed to securing justice for the families of the victims of deadly terrorist strikes, like the Mumbai attack in November 2008.He said another issue which has become a matter of concern for all nations is the increasing circulation of counterfeit currency in the region.
“I must particularly thank our hosts in Nepal for the cooperation they have extended to us, in dealing with the movement of counterfeit currency, across our borders,” he said.