Days after the Bangalore and Ahmedabad blasts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that terrorism remains the “single biggest” threat to South Asia’s stability.
Addressing the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, Singh stated that terrorists and extremists know no borders. “The recent attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad are grim reminders of the barbarity that still finds a place in South Asia.”
The PM called for joint action and determination to fight the scourge of terrorism. “We must defend the values of pluralism, peaceful coexistence and the rule of law.” Singh said the ideology of hatred and fanaticism could destroy the social fabric in the region.
Terror dominated the summit agenda with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa taking a tough line against the menace. Both countries are grappling with terrorism and civil strife. While the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, in Sri Lanka, the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are locked in battle with the armed forces.
Karzai was blunt in referring to the involvement of a neighbouring country in aiding and abetting the Taliban insurgents as well as other active terrorist groups. Terrorism, he said, was receiving institutional support from countries like Pakistan. “In Pakistan, terrorism and its sanctuaries are gaining a deeper grip as demonstrated by the tragic assassination of shaheed (martyr) Benazir Bhutto,” Karzai said at the summit in the presence of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He added terrorism might prove to be the most destabilising factor in the region and that his country was facing the brunt of it.
“While existing on the absolute fringes of our tolerant and peace loving societies, terrorists in our region receive institutional nurturing and support. It is this embedded nature of terrorists that make it a much more sinister threat,” he said.
Interestingly, Gilani in his address called for joint action against terrorism without referring to the allegations that Pakistan’s ISI was behind the July 7 suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.