South Asia faces new threats of terrorism, says India

South Asia faces new threats of terrorism, says India

With the region witnessing a sea change in the strategic environment since 9/11, India on Friday cautioned its neighbours about the new threats of extremism and terrorism, especially with the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan.

Addressing the sixth meeting of Saarc interior and home ministers in Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also called for a mechanism to check the spread of radical and extremist ideologies.

“A major issue that concerns us all is terrorism, which is driven by internal, regional and international factors, within and across national boundaries. There was sea change in the strategic environment in our neighbourhood with the emergence of a new dispensation in Afghanistan following the terrorist strikes in the US of September 11, 2001,” he said.

He expressed hope that the international community will continue to support the democratically elected government in Afghanistan. “But, we need to carefully assess the impact on the entire south Asian region of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, which would continue to need international assistance, to enable it to move ahead on the road to stability, peace and progress,” he said.

He said the countries in the region are “naturally concerned” by new threats of extremism, terrorism and violence being held out to countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“Groups with radical and extremist ideologies do pose threats across national boundaries, in this volatile security environment. These groups even have no compunction in issuing threats publicly against neighbouring and regional countries,” he added.

With an increase in circulation of counterfeit currency in the neighbourhood, Singh said there was a need to consider how this issue, which involves not just terrorist activities, but also economic  destabilisation, can be addressed collectively.

“Moreover, it is imperative that all south Asian States should introduce legislation that enables stringent punishment of individuals, organisations and publications that advocate and incite terrorism and violence, across national boundaries,” he said.

He said India’s focus is on the need for countries to adopt comprehensive enabling legislation and for the inclusion of offences under domestic law, strengthening extradition procedures and providing courts effective jurisdiction to prosecute offenders, when extradition is not granted.

“Some member States are yet to ratify the Convention on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters, which was signed in 2008. I would urge them to do so to enable the widest possible mutual legal assistance in criminal matters,” he said.

On drug smuggling, he said India is facing serious problems on borders like Punjab and this menace afflicts both countries where narcotic substances are produced, and countries beyond their borders.

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