NEW DELHI: The countries in the Bay of Bengal Region on Tuesday participated in the first meeting of their National Security Chiefs to have collective strategies to counter the threat of terrorism and radicalisation.
The National Security Chiefs of BIMSTEC countries – India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan gathered in New Delhi to underline the necessity of a common approach to address traditional and non-traditional security challenges to harness economic prosperity and human security in the region.
The members recognized terrorism as the “single most significant threat” to peace and stability in the Bay of Bengal region. According to data on South Asian Terrorism Portal 2,835 people lost their lives in South Asia in the year 2016 out of which 854 were civilians and 476 were from the security forces. India and Bangladesh are facing the brunt of violent terrorism the most.
“The Meeting recognized the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization and decided to take concrete measures to enhance cooperation and coordination among their law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations and enhance capacity building,” a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. The delegation also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two decades-old Bay of Bengal Initiative of Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) got a new lease of life as SAARC with Pakistan failed to make any headway in improving regional connectivity and trade.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval represented India in the meet and invited BIMSTEC Member States a Conference on Counter Radicalisation to be hosted by India that was first reported by The New Indian Express. The first of its kind international conference will also be bringing in religious scholars and Muslim clerics from across the globe to discuss ways and means to counter radicalisation.
Maritime and cyber security emerged as key areas for cooperation to combat terrorism.