Members of SAARC on Saturday pledged to step up coordinated action against the common menace of terrorism, including steps to apprehend or extradite persons connected with acts of terrorism and facilitate real-time intelligence sharing.

The meeting of the Interior Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation also resolved to step up cooperation in real time intelligence-sharing and to consider Pakistan’s proposal for creation of SAARCPOL, an institution on the lines of Interpol.

The Ministerial statement on cooperation against terrorism adopted at the meeting said the SAARC member states had underscored their “commitment to apprehend and prosecute or extradite persons connected, directly or indirectly, with the commissions of acts of terrorism”.

They also reiterated their commitment to strengthen SAARC’s regime against terrorism.

While pledging to strengthen cooperation to fight and eradicate terrorism in all forms, the Interior Ministers emphasised the importance of a coordinated and concerted response to the menace.

The Ministers, including Home Minister P. Chidambaram, pledged to implement measures against the “organisation, instigation, financing and facilitation” of terrorist activities.

They also said administrative and legal measures to ensure that the territories of the SAARC states are “not used for terrorist installations or training camps or for the preparation or organisation of terrorist acts intended to be committed against other states or their citizens”.

The Ministers resolved to ensure that “nationals and entities” of SAARC states who commit, facilitate or participate in commission of terror acts are “appropriately punished”.

The SAARC members — Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, also acknowledged that linkages between terrorism, illegal trafficking of drugs, human trafficking, smuggling of firearms and threats to maritime security remained a “serious concern” and said these problems would be addressed in a comprehensive manner.

Briefing reporters at the conclusion of the meeting, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the existing Sri Lanka-based SAARC Terrorism Offences Monitoring Desk would be strengthened to facilitate real time sharing of intelligence.

The SAARC states will work out modalities to strengthen networking to share information on terrorist groups and individuals.

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