The Bay of Bengal countries, five of whom are SAARC members, on Monday said terrorists should not be glorified as martyrs. But the strong statement still fell short on making a reference to cross-border terrorism or the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
The leaders of BIMSTEC, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand had an outreach meeting between the BRICS leaders here on Sunday. The grouping is meeting at the highest level after a gap of two years.
“There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs,” the BIMSTEC leaders’ retreat outcome statement said. This is significant for New Delhi as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had hailed Burhan Wani, the militant leader, who was killed in Kashmir in an encounter July this year. Wani’s killing had triggered a massive unrest in Kashmir, further straining the Indo-Pak ties.
Sharif had described Wani as a martyr in his Independence Day speech in August and later at the UN in September.
Four of the BIMSTEC countries, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka had pulled out of the SAARC summit which was slated to be held in Islamabad in November.
“We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against States who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues”, the BIMESTC leaders said.
Pared down, this reflects India’s concern about Pakistan sponsoring terror and using its territory for terror attacks against India.
The leaders also agreed to expedite the signing of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and to early ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.