Implement Terror Protocol urgently, asserts Bhutan
Bhutan who has launched a military operation to flush out Indian insurgents from its soil, on Sunday said all terrorist leaders had been apprehended and called for the immediate implementation of the new protocol on suppression of terrorism in the region.
The Additional Protocol to the Regional Convention on Suppression of terrorism to be signed during this summit should not only be given effect but also implemented to eliminate the menace, Bhutanese Premier Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said here.
Addressing the 12th SAARC summit, he said the recent attempt to assassinate Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff was a rude reminder of the need to root out terrorism.
He said "all leaders (of those who had launched insurgency in Indian states of Assam and West Bengal) had been apprehended, others had surrendered or were finding their way out, hopefully to live peacefully in their own country".
Thinley lamented that little had changed since the original SAARC convention on terrorism was inked and the people were facing the scourge and pangs of insecurity too often and in too large numbers.
He said that the operation launched against three insurgent groups spreading terror in North-eastern India followed a painstakingly long and frustrating dialogue with them for six years.
"Ultimately military action had to be taken on December 15 last against all three groups to flush them out", he said.
The Bhutanese Premier regretted the casualties during the mopping up operation but said comfort can be drawn in the creation of a safe and secure environment and contribution made in eradication of the evil of terrorism.
Thirteen camps in the dense jungles on Indo-Bhutan border were training insurgents, storing arms and launching attacks in Assam and West Bengal. They were trying to create misunderstanding and affect relations between the two countries, he said.
Insurgency had impeded trade, led to closure of large industries and inhibited development, he said adding that the insurgents were resorting to threats, coercion and extortion and their activities had led to tragic loss of many lives.
He said introduction of democracy in Bhutan is in the final stages as a constitution is being drafted.
The objective is to have a small, efficient and clean government, he said.
He described economic cooperation as the core basis of SAARC and hoped work on various components of the proposed free trade area will be completed at the earliest possible.
He warned against the SAARC members becoming clones of the developed nations and instead favoured management of projects by local communities with focus on local solutions to local problems.
He also expressed concern over the dwindling health of the planet and hazards of environmental degradation.
With SAARC being the region inhabited by one-sixth of humanity, Thinley called for understanding the nature and root causes of poverty to alleviate the menace.