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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2528

Babar urges to intensify war on drugs

Dhaka, 13 May, ( first-ever meeting of home ministers from the seven member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation ended in Dhaka on Thursday with specific decisions to fight the alarming spread of drugs abuse in the region.

‘Narcotics are affecting every country, and Pakistan has been assigned to identify specific activities within the year on how to stop proliferation of drugs abuse in South Asia,’ the state minister for home affairs, Lutfozzaman Babar, said when addressing a news conference after the daylong meeting.

Pakistan will also finalize the framework towards the formation of an emergency response team within SAARC, he said.

Babar termed the meeting ‘very fruitful’ and said specific decisions had been made to increase the effectiveness of the Colombo-based desk that is responsible for checking proliferation of drugs abuse in SAARC countries.

The meeting observed that remarkable improvement could be made in the area of curbing terrorism, drug smuggling and other crimes by increasing cooperation with the Narcotics and Counterterrorism Institution of the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

‘The SAARC Secretariat will put forward specific proposals by June on how to strengthen cooperation with the two organizations,’ said Babar. ‘The heads of police will meet twice a year to ensure rapid implementation and evaluation of the decision of the home ministers’ meeting.’

Pakistan has agreed to hold the first meeting by the end of the year, he said.

The home ministers agreed to share experiences in combating terrorism, trafficking of drugs and persons and money laundering with each other.

Babar said the scope of cooperation in fighting terrorism and ensuring security was further expanded through the meeting.

‘Law enforcement agencies of all the South Asian countries have experiences in fighting terrorism and other forms of crimes and we have decided to share that among us,’ he said. ‘A database will be prepared in this regard.’

At the meeting, the home ministers highlighted the situation in their respective counties and described the remedial actions they had taken.

Asked whether there was any specific decision on fighting militancy, the home secretary, Safar Raj Hossain, only said the issue had been discussed.

‘Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the worse affected and have been facing difficulties in tackling militancy,’ he said.

Babar replied in the negative when asked if there were specific figures of how much drugs or how many firearms are smuggling in or out of Bangladesh every year.

He said he had discussion with the Indian interior minister on a number of bilateral issues, including Bangladeshi criminals staying in India. The Bangladesh Rifles has already handed over a list of the criminals to the Indian Border Security Forces.

A desk was established in 1995 in Colombo to tackle terrorist activities in the region but it failed to perform well in the past one year, the meeting observed.

‘The home ministers pointed out that the desk should be made effective,’ Babar told journalists.

About SAARCPOL, the inspector general of police, Abdul Quayyum, said Nepal placed a theme paper, which required more discussion and study by the member states.

He hoped that a concrete decision would be taken at the next meeting of heads of police of SAARC countries in New Delhi in 2007.

The meeting, inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, proposed a training program for police officials of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It also discussed steps the countries had taken in implementation of two regional conventions and the additional protocol against terrorism.

- INS + Asian Tribune -

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