SAARC members exchange lists of banned groups

The SAARC countries want to root out terrorism through a joint mechanism.

Islamabad: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation member nations have exchanged lists of banned groups during preparatory meetings ahead of a conference of Interior Ministers of the regional grouping here on June 26.

The lists of banned groups were exchanged during a meeting of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk here yesterday, officials said.

The SAARC countries also expressed their determination to root out terrorism through a joint mechanism. The list prepared by Pakistan comprised 21 proscribed groups.

The SAARC countries also shared information on the working of banned organisations in their respective territories.

Pakistan briefed the other member countries on its ongoing anti-militancy operations, including the drive against the Taliban in the country`s northwest.

The participants expressed concern over the spread of militancy in the region and called for a joint strategy to counter the problem, officials said.

A meeting of the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk was also held yesterday, and participants discussed the need for a border control management system in member countries to counter the smuggling of narcotics and weapons.

Two separate meetings on immigration-related matters and cooperation in police matters are scheduled for today while the Interior Secretaries of the eight SAARC countries, including India and Pakistan, will meet tomorrow.

These meetings will prepare the grounds for the conference of SAARC Interior Ministers on June 26.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who is set to arrive in Islamabad tomorrow, will also hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC meet.

Officials said the agenda for the Interior Ministers` meeting will include a counter-terrorism strategy, human trafficking, visa issues, enforcement of drug laws, smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, cooperation in police matters and an information-sharing mechanism.

Pakistan has also submitted a proposal for the creation of an Institute of Criminology while Sri Lanka has proposed the creation of Saarcpol, a force on the lines of Interpol to help detect trans-national crimes, control terrorism and arrest wanted people.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has described the meeting as crucial because "all SAARC members are affected by terrorism in one way or another".

He said the meeting will help seek joint solutions to eradicate terrorism from the region. Malik said he expected that a host of issues between Pakistan and India would be discussed when he meets his Indian counterpart.

"All issues, including (access to) Ajmal Kasab, the Mumbai attacks and other matters, will be thoroughly discussed," he said.

He hoped that such dialogue would help improve Pakistan-India relations.


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