Dealing with the security concerns of South Asia collectively would lead to greater connectivity and accelerated progress of the region, said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Addressing the SAARC home minister’s conference in Pakistani capital, Chidambaram pointed out that other regional associations in East and South-East Asia have achieved better growth rates and connectivity than the South Asian region. “As minister of interior/home affairs, we have a responsibility in ensuring that regional cooperation in meeting the challenges posed by terrorism, arms smuggling, fake currency, drug and human trafficking would create an environment conducive to greater connectivity, accelerated progress and development in the region,” the minister said.
Enhancing police cooperation and intelligence sharing is also on the agenda of the conference. The home minister is also pressing for the ratification by Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal of the SAARC Mutual Legal Assistance agreement on criminal matters. The agreement was reached at the SAARC Summit in Colombo in 2008. The treaty’s coming into effect will facilitate extradition of criminals wanted in another SAARC country. The conference is deliberating upon deregulating the visa regime in the SAARC region.
Any forward movement on any of the issues on the agenda would depend on how India and Pakistan mutually agrees upon them. SAARC visa issues are essentially caught in disputes between India and Pakistan. Chiefs of intelligence bureaus of India and Pakistan met on the sidelines of the conference to trash out details of some thorny issues.
Pak goofs up India flag
The Indian national flag was kept upside down in the room where Union home minister P Chidambaram met his Pakistani counterpart Rahman Malik on Friday evening. After Indian channels ran big with the goof-up, Chidambaram said “it was a mistake,” and “we should not make much of it.” “In the beginning, the flag was upside down. By the time the delegation meeting started, the mistake was corrected,” the home minister said. Apparently, the home minister himself flipped the flag to its right.