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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Khaleda for regional cooperation in combating terrorism

Dhaka, 13 May, ( Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia said Bangladesh remains committed not to allow her soil to be used by any terrorist group for undertaking crime and subversive activities in other states.

Making the remark while formally inaugurating the first SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ Conference at Hotel Sheraton in the morning, she informed that she categorically conveyed this assurance of Bangladesh’s stand and commitment to other SAARC leaders whenever she met with them.

At the same time, Khaleda, also current chairperson of SAARC, said Bangladesh opposes the use of foreign soil for terrorist and subversive activities against Bangladesh.

“We believe that collective prosperity and wellbeing cannot be ensured unless each member state in South Asia enjoys peace and stability.”

She added: “In the era of globalization, terrorism and transnational crimes have become increasingly global. Therefore, we need to ensure understanding and cooperation in South Asia in the area of counter-terrorism for our mutual benefit.”

The SAARC chairperson said the peoples and governments in South Asia are now deeply engaged in ensuring economic and social progress though often challenged by basic development problems of poverty, malnutrition and hunger.

“As we concentrate on ensuring a better life for our peoples, of late, we are also confronted by another menace, namely terrorism. This causes widespread damage to the lives and livelihoods of the ordinary citizens. It also adversely affects economic stability and social development,” she added.

Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzman Babor, Bhutanese Home Minister Lyonpo Jigme Thinley, Maldives Home Minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and SAARC secretary general Chenkyab Dorji also spoke at the function.

Ministers, diplomats, MPs, delegation members of SAARC

Home Ministries, among others, attended the inaugural session.

In recent times, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia said, Bangladesh witnessed the growth of some such forces and her government has faced these challenges firmly.

“We’ve mobilized all our forces and succeeded in arresting most of those who committed crime and violence in the name of religion. They are being tried under laws of the land,” she said.

She added: “We have categorically asked our security forces to remain vigilant, so that such elements do not find any opportunity to grow in future.”

Bangladesh is a peace-loving country and a responsible member of the international community, she said, reiterating that Bangladesh is fully committed to ensuring a peaceful and prosperous South Asia.

Referring to SAARC’s adoption of a regional convention on Suppression of Terrorism and a convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances, she said SAARC has adopted an additional Protocol on Financing Terrorism during the 12th Summit in 2004 aiming to make the Convention on Terrorism more effective in the changed context of post-September 11 scenario.

“It is gratifying to note that by the time we met for the 13th Summit, all countries had ratified the regional conventions, including the additional Protocol,” Khaleda said.

“These indeed demonstrate our collective commitment in fighting the common challenges relating to peace and security.”

The Prime Minister expressed her confidence that the SAARC countries would be able to implement the provisions of these regional Conventions, which would surely lay the foundation for economic progress in South Asia and would also demonstrate their common resolve in fighting terrorism and all related challenges facing the world.

Referring to the decisions taken during the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in last September, she said the decisions are aimed at ensuring peace and security in this region, which is crucial for creating a firm basis for economic prosperity of millions of South Asians.

“And this meeting of Home Ministers is taking place at an important juncture of SARRC’s history.”

The SAARC chairperson said the Dhaka Summit resolved that SAARC’s third decade would be one of implementation and emphasized that the decisions should be focused, result-oriented and time-bound.

“At the same time, we also recognized that our Home Ministers and Home Secretaries should meet regularly to discuss our collective concern relating to regional peace and security.”

She expressed her satisfaction that the Home Ministers of the South Asian region are meeting for the first time in SAARC’s history where they have a number of agenda, including combating terrorism, terrorism-financing and drugs trafficking.

Begum Zia said Bangladesh has always demonstrated its commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and its government is implementing all provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

Bangladesh already ratified 11 out of the 12 global instruments relating to counter-terrorism, she said, adding:

“We shall shortly ratify the 12the one relating to financing of terrorism. At the same time, we have brought about necessary amendments in our domestic laws.”

Khaleda said Bangladesh is training its security and enforcement personnel on effectively implementing provisions of these international conventions as well as strengthening the relevant institutional mechanisms in Bangladesh.

Terming terrorism as a challenge to all States and a threat to entire humanity, she said it violates the fundamental values of the SAARC Charter and also that of the United Nations.

Earlier, the state minister for home affairs of Bangladesh, Lutfozzaman Babar, delivered welcome address while the SAARC secretary general, Chenkiyab Dorji, made the introductory speech.

The Indian interior minister, Shivraj Patil, the Pakistani home minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpaw, the Bhutanese minister for home and cultural affairs, Lyonpo Ssigmi Thenley and the home minister of the Maldives, Ahmed Taslim Ali, expressed common concern over terrorism, drug smuggling, arms and human trafficking in the region.

- Asian Tribune -

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