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Terrorism biggest threat to South Asia's stability: PM

August 02, 2008 13:02 IST
Last Updated: August 02, 2008 16:28 IST

Terrorism [Images] is the biggest threat to South Asia's stability, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] told the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit on Saturday.
"Terrorists and extremists don't know borders. We must act with determination to fight terrorism. We cannot lose the battle against ideologies of hatred," said Dr Singh.

Dr Singh urged the SAARC countries to jointly act and battle the scourge with determination. "Terrorism continues to rear its ugly head," Singh said.

Terrorism was high on the agenda of the two-day summit being attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and leaders from Sri Lanka [Images], Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives [Images] and Afghanistan.

Dr Singh is scheduled to meet Gilani to convey India's concerns over the Inter Services Intelligence links in the suicide bomb attack on Indian embassy in Kabul as also the recent ceasefire violations by the Pakistani forces along the Line of Control [Images] in Jammu and Kashmir [Images].

Singh, whose visit comes close on the heels of the serial blasts in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru and attempts in Surat, described terrorism as the 'single biggest threat to development'.

                        PM asks Pakistan to honour its commitment on stopping terror

The Prime Minister said the blasts were "gruesome reminders of the barbarity that still finds a place here in South Asia." Speaking from the heavily fortified venue, he said, "We must defend the value of pluralism, peaceful existence and the rule of law."

Regretting that South Asia has not moved as fast as one would have wished, he said "we have only to see the rapid integration within ASEAN and its emergence as an important economic bloc in Asia to understand the opportunities that beckon."

Emphasising that "a prosperous South Asia will also be a peaceful and stable South Asia," he said a new paradigm of thinking and change of mindsets were required to realise this vision.

To be a dynamic and responsive body, SAARC must identify and address new challenges as they emerge. The unprecedented increase in oil and food prices "risks jeopardising our developmental gains," he said.

"I am optimistic about our future, and am confident that the best is yet to come," he said while assuring SAARC leaders that India stood ready to play its part in the evolution of a stable, vibrant and prosperous South Asia.

He pointed out that South Asia clearly had the resources and the skills needed to meet the development challenges.

"I am happy to say that India has experienced vigorous growth at an average of 8.8 per cent for the past four years. India is now an open economy welcoming investment from everywhere," he said.

The Prime Minister also emphasised that SAARC must make its voice heard in the councils of the world to ensure that there is an affective global response that protects the interests of oil consuming countries.

"We should also pool our resources to tap renewable sources such as solar energy, hydro-power and wind energy, all of which South Asia has in abundance," he said.

Singh also briefed the audience about India's National Action Plan on Climate Change and promised to share experience in this important sector.

He said SAARC nations should work closely on sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, disaster management strategies and programmes, early warning systems and research on climate modeling.

"As we consolidate, prioritise and rationalise our activities, we will bring closer to the doorsteps of our people the benefits of SAARC," Singh said.

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