Thanks to China's opposition, the Goa declaration at the end of the BRICS summit did not allude to Pakistan-sponsored terror as strongly as India would have liked it to. But the Outcome Document at the end of the BIMSTEC leaders’ retreat on Monday (17 October) more than made up for it.
The statement issued jointly by the seven member states (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand) of the Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi-Sectoral Technical & Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) came down very strongly on states that sponsor terrorism. The statement all but named Pakistan as the cradle and safe haven for terrorists.
We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against States who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues. There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.
There can be no doubt that BIMSTEC members meant Pakistan. The last two lines were a direct reference to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif glorifying Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani.
The BIMSTEC members also said that there could be “no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever”. This can also be read as a rejection of Pakistan's attempts to link terror attacks on Indian security forces to the unrest in Kashmir valley.
And as if to leave no one in doubt, the statement said that the BIMSTEC states “condemn in the strongest terms the recent barbaric terror attacks in the region”. India is the only member state of BIMSTEC that has faced terror attacks in recent times.
BIMSTEC leaders have slammed attempts made to glorify terrorists and described terrorism as the single-most significant threat to peace and stability in the region.
BIMSTEC also noted that the grouping has considerable potential for economic and social development through mutually beneficial cooperation in the identified priority areas. The leaders also pledged to work collectively towards making the bloc stronger, more effective and result oriented.
Following the 18 September Uri terror attack, India, as host of this year’s BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit, chose to invite countries belonging to the BIMSTEC grouping over those of SAARC.
As New Delhi has launched a diplomatic blitz to isolate Islamabad in the international community, the invitation to BIMSTEC countries instead of the SAARC countries is being seen as another step in this direction.
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