Dhaka newspaper moots SAARC Summit on terrorism
Feb 21, 2007 - 2:56:18 PM
Dhaka, Feb 21 - A regional level summit conference of South Asian nations is being mooted to debate measures to fight terrorism in the wake of recurring incidents like last Sunday's terror attack on Samjhauta Express that killed nearly 70 passengers.
The suggestion came in an editorial by influential English daily New Age, with 14th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation - barely six weeks away.
'We cannot but underline the importance of SAARC as the forum from which true dividends of regional peace can be earned by all member states,' the newspaper said, adding: '...unless the issue of terrorism is discussed, defined, and an action plan prepared to combat it in common terms at the SAARC level, the regional body will have no real significance or impact on the political realities of neighbourly relations.'
The newspaper pointed out that a debate on terrorism 'will bring to the fore thorny issues that none of the countries want to confront or tackle.'
Offering its own approach, it said: 'Here we want to make a clear distinction between terrorism that seeks to subvert the state and movements that seek to earn the right to self-determination for sections of the population whose development the state has ignored. While one may be resolved through law and order solutions, the other requires long-term political reconciliation for resolution.'
Terrorism is an issue between Bangladesh and India as well. The suggestion comes two days after India and Bangladesh agreed to fight terrorism unitedly as emphasized during the visit of Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Media reports and think tanks have said that post 9/11, Al Qaeda and Pakistan-based terrorist outfits have spread to Bangladesh, a pattern that became pronounced under Begum Khaleda Zia's government -.
New Age lauded 'a bold move on the part of the Indian and Bangladesh governments to not only announce an agenda of cooperation in combating terrorism but to also not allow Monday's train blasts scupper their plans to launch a cross-border train service.'
'India, Bangladesh and Pakistan share mutual suspicion of each other that, while well-grounded on past experience, is also anachronistically inward looking in an era when great political and economic gains can be made through cooperation.'
'The one-upmanship that successive governments have indulged in to secure votes and popular support in the past have cost the nations dearly, so much so that a widespread culture of fear and suspicion of those across the border now infects even those members of the populace who are most politically disconnected,' the editorial said.
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