New Delhi: India and the UK on Monday agreed to start a strategic dialogue on home affairs issues covering areas like visas and organised crime even as they voiced concern over terrorism, which they saw as threat that was not a “limited security challenge” and whose arc spread “across nations and regions”.
After holding extensive talks which covered a wide range issues including trade, investment, security and defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Theresa May called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist strike in Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot attack to justice.
Addressing a joint press event with May, Modi said they discussed ways to purposefully work together to combat the growing forces of radicalisation and terrorism. “We agreed that it is not a limited security challenge. Its arc of threat spreads across nations and regions. Terrorists move across borders with ease and endanger the entire humanity.
“I conveyed our deep concern to Prime Minister May regarding cross-border terrorism and the need for the international community to take strong action against States that support and sponsor terrorism,” he said.
On her part, May said the two countries face the shared threat of terrorism as individual countries, as partners, and global powers, and have agreed to strengthen cooperation, in particular by sharing best practices to tackle use of internet by violent extremists.
“We have also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue on Home affairs issues covering visas, returns and organised crime. As part of this we will step up speed and return of those Indians who have no right to be in the UK,” May said.
The joint statement issued after the talks said May strongly condemned the September terrorist attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri and offered condolences to the victims and their families.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan hailing slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as “martyr”, the joint statement said, “There should be no glorification of terrorists or efforts to make a distinction between good and bad terrorists. They agreed that South Asia should be stable, prosperous and free from terror and called on all countries to work towards that goal.”
Strongly affirming that terrorism is a serious threat to humanity, the leaders reiterated their strong commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds. They shared the view that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism, the statement said.
Acknowledging that terrorism and violent extremism posed one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, Modi and May called for concerted global action against them “without selectivity”. They pitched for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation.
The two Prime Ministers affirmed that the fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and bring to justice terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues.
The statement also noted that both India and the UK had suffered the human cost of terrorism and now worked in partnership to tackle the threat terrorism and violent extremism posed.
Our two countries understand the increasingly transnational challenge of terrorism that demands multilateral as well as bilateral cooperation. International cooperation to combat terrorism is at the core of successfully denying terrorists the space to radicalise, recruit and conduct attacks, they said.
The leaders also noted the two countries continued to build upon 2015 Defence and International Security Partnership to deepen cooperation, including on countering terrorism, radicalisation, violent extremism and cyber security.
“We will jointly set out areas on defence and security which make clear our future ambitions to design, make, exercise, train and co-operate together. And we will continue to consult and co-ordinate, across a range of global policy security challenges, in pursuit of our shared goal of a more secure world,” the joint document said.
The leaders welcomed the recent UK-initiated joint statement on Preventing Violent Extremism launched at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum in New York. The two leaders also called for strengthening the existing international counter terrorism legal framework including through the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).