Top police officers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries discussed terrorism and drug traffic-related problems in the region, among other policing issues, at a two-day conference here.
Working well within the limitations of what could be achieved in a grouping that includes India and Pakistan, the meeting talked about best practices in drug abuse prevention being followed in each country. It also highlighted drug demand and supply patterns.
The fourth meeting of the focal points of SAARC terrorist offences monitoring desk (STOMD) and the fourth meeting of focal points of SAARC drug offences monitoring desk (SDOMD), consumed a major part of the deliberations at the ninth SAARC conference in Police Matters. While SDOMD has made some progress treading on common ground, the terrorist offences monitoring desk is yet to achieve the same amount of success.
On police issues, there was a lot more success and sharing, with both India and Pakistan offering training slots to other countries in the region. Each country shared its expertise in a field of policing in which it had achieved some success. Sri Lanka, for instance, offered to share its experience on counter-terrorism through a module for officers in the region while Bangladesh also offered to run a programme on tackling organised crime that did not confine itself to national boundaries.
Since last year, India had been offering training programmes at the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science.
Broad-basing the progress achieved in sharing experiences and establishing institutions to deal with pan-SAARC issues have not taken off. For instance, the idea to establish an Interpol- like regional institution in the SAARC region has not made much headway, despite being on the discussion table from the fourth SAARC police conference.
The ninth conference discussed setting up of SAARCPOL a sixth time; but this time it was based on a revised concept paper prepared by Nepal. Also still under consideration is a Pakistan proposal to set up a SAARC Institute of Criminology.
Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa inaugurated the conference on Tuesday.