Monday, May 03, 2010

Nothing on “Democracy & HR” in SAARC Summit that vows to eradicate “Terrorism”

Leaders of SAARC countries on Wednesday, April 28 vowed to collectively combat the scourge of terrorism, extremism and insurgency plaguing the region with Pakistan and Bangladesh rejecting claims of those who justified violence in the name of Islam. This therefore leaves all forms of armed conflict in all SAARC member countries, as those that need to be eliminated.

“Terrorism” thus understood as war against the State, was high on the agenda at the two-day Summit of SAARC Heads of States, with the Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley elected as its new Chairman, asserting that no cause could be enhanced or served through acts of terror, nor was it in any degree deserving of sympathy and support.

“Those who are responsible for the perpetration of such heinous crimes against humanity must know that they will be brought to justice in a world where nations are acting together and their individual and collective capacity to apprehend the guilty is growing,” The Bhutanese PM said.

Voicing concerns over terrorism, extremism and radicalism, Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh asked the SAARC countries to “revive the South Asia of our dreams that is once again a source of new ideas, new knowledge and new opportunities”.

India’s strong push for the SAARC Convention on “Suppression of Terrorism and ratification of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters” received the backing of SAARC leaders.

PM Dr. Manmohan Singh also said, “The challenge before us is to translate institutions into activities, conventions into programmes, official statements into popular sentiments. Declarations at summits and official level meetings do not amount to regional co-operation or integration.”

In his speech, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said terrorism was like a “toxic brew” under the garb of different ideologies and underscored the need for the SAARC countries to join hands individually and collectively.

He hoped the meeting of the SAARC Home Ministers in Islamabad in June this year, would help in synergising their positions to effectively fight the menace of terrorism.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her country was firmly opposed to terrorism, insurgency, organised crimes and religious extremism. “We categorically reject claims of those who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of Islam, or any other faith to justify violence. We are also committed against the use of Bangladesh territory for launching terrorism elsewhere,” the PM said, in clear terms.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also spoke of the threat posed by terrorism and made a strong pitch for collective action to defeat it.

He said, “We must also resolve in this ‘Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC’, to work diligently to strengthen both the physical and soft connectivity between our countries and peoples. We must find, as well, the best and the most practical means to implement the provisions of existing SAARC Conventions, especially against Terrorism.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said all SAARC members without exception or reservation should commit, not to allow their territories to be used directly or indirectly to train or shelter terrorist networks.

He said the terrorist attacks in the last two years in Kabul, Islamabad and Mumbai and elsewhere, were yet again gruesome reminders that terrorism continues to find a place in the region.

Terrorist attacks have become audacious and its reach and spread, aimed at destabilising societies, he said, “The most challenging threats we all face are that of terrorism, extremism, narcotics, and organized crime. I believe that SAARC is a platform for us to join our forces to combat these threats together.”

With all such eloquence and commitment in eradicating “terrorism”, none of the SAARC leaders had spoken about establishing and or improving democracy in the region, as a necessary process for development, at this 16 SAARC Summit of Heads of States. None had spoken on respecting Human Rights in the region and supporting each other in institutionalising a regional mechanism to monitor violation of human rights.

Most recently, the New York based organisation, the CPJ indexed 06 of the 08 member countries in the SAARC among the top 12 countries in the world for impunity against journalists in year 2009.

It has not been even acknowledged at this SAARC Summit that the South Asian region has very many cases of violations of human rights and that in most countries, extra judicial killings and that of custodial killings are on the increase. Even in India custodial killings have been on the increase, with extra judicial killings by State sponsored para military groups like the Salwa Judum resorting to such means, in the name of eliminating “terrorism”.

© South Asia Speaks

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