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Modi asks SAARC to fulfill commitment on combating terror

PTI 26 Nov 2014, 19:57:54 PM IST

Kathmandu: Pakistan's intransigence today came in the way of the SAARC Summit failing to sign agreements on greater connectivity among the eight member nations on its opening day marked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the members to fulfill their commitment to combat terrorism.

As the opening of the summit coincided with the sixth anniversary of Pakistan-sponsored 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai which left 166 people dead, Modi told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and six other leaders that “we feel the endless pain of lost lives.”

Sharif on his part totally skipped any reference to the issue of terrorism, on which other leaders including new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke in their speeches.

Rajapaksa said, “Terrorism still remains fundamental security challenge both regionally and internationally...  radical views of few and misplaced agenda of some others do not undermine the security and well-being of large majority of peace loving people in the region.”

Ghani criticised those countries that provide safe havens to terrorists and said, “we will not allow our territories to be used against any of our neighbours. We will not permit anybody to conduct proxy wars on our soil.”

Meanwhile, the possibility of even an unstructured meeting between Modi and Sharif remained a matter of speculation. Their cold vibes underlined by the fact that they did not even exchange pleasantries at the opening ceremony of the two-day summit. However, a brief chat at the retreat was still being talked about.

Pakistan also stalled the inking of connectivity agreements, including motor vehicle pact, saying it was yet to complete its “internal process”, notwithstanding SAARC countries including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India strongly pitching for having these deals to strengthen the people-to-people contact and movement of goods in the region.

However, Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey told PTI that “There are some roadblocks and we are working to clear them.” He also said his country will make all efforts to ensure that the connectivity pacts, including the motor vehicle agreement, are signed before the SAARC declaration tomorrow.

Stressing the need for better connectivity in the region, Prime Minister Modi, in his speech at the 18th SAARC Summit said, “Our relations become stronger when we connect the lives of the ordinary citizens of our countries. That is why connectivity and services by rail and road are so important. We should also connect ourselves more by air.”

He said, “For India, our vision for the region rests on five pillars - trade, investment, assistance, cooperation in every area, contacts between our people—and, all through seamless connectivity.”