Modi says state sponsored terrorism biggest problem
Male: Assuring that India will remain a “dependable, strong and leading partner” in progress of Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made veiled attack on Pakistan saying state sponsorship of terrorism was the biggest threat before the world.
He called for a global conference against terrorism to discuss ways to end loopholes that are exploited by terrorists for their nefarious designs.
The first visit by Modi to the South Asian archipelago nation in his new term was marked by rich symbolism on both sides.
Modi became the only the second foreign Head of State or Government to address the People’s Majlis (parliament) in its 86 year history. He was conferred Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen – the highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries by Maldives.
His speech to the Maldives parliament was his first speech on a foreign soil since his re-election. Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih held delegation level talks and jointly inaugurated composite training centre and coastal surveillance radar system.
Modi said dealing with terrorism and radicalisation was the biggest challenge for global leaders.
“Terrorism is the biggest challenge not only for a country or a region but the entire world. No day goes when terrorists do not strike. They do not have bank accounts but still they have no dearth of money. Where do they get this money from, who gives them. State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat,” Modi said.
He said a mistake was being made by making a distinction between a good terrorist and a bad terrorist. “This is an artificial divide. It has broken all barriers. All forces who believe in humanity, should come together. Dealing with terror and radicalisation is the biggest challenge for global leadership,” Modi said.
In his speech at People’s Majlis, for which he later received standing ovation from the members, Modi shared his views on Indo-Pacific, saying it was “our lifeline, trade route and key to our future” and there was need for all countries to work together for “openness, integration and balance” as it will increase trust.
He said rules-based order will help preserve multilateralism.
China has been seeking more influence in the Indian Ocean region and has invested in infrastructure projects in Maldives.
Amid reports concerning China’s “debt trap”, Modi said India’s partnership is to empower people and not to weaken them or to increase their dependency or to put burden of debt on the coming generations.
Modi said 50 per cent of world population lives in the Indo-Pacific and he had outlined SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region) as blueprint for cooperation in Indo-Pacific.
India, he said, will use its resources also for developing capacities of other countries and in dealing with disasters.
“This time is full of challenges but challenges also bring opportunities,” he said.
He said India and Maldives have an opportunity to work for keeping secure, world’s “most important sea lane”.
In his speech, Modi referred to election of Solih in last December.
“And who was most happy and proud over Maldives achievement. The answer is simple. Your most close friend, your nearest neighbour and the world’s biggest democracy – India. For strengthening democracy in Maldives, India and every Indian was with you and will remain so,” he said.
India has been concerned with former Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s leaning toward China.
Modi announced India’s cooperation in conservation of Friday Mosque, which is made of coral and is unique in the world.
During the visit, Modi gifted Solih a cricket bat, signed by Indian cricketers. India has offered to construct a cricket stadium of international standards near Male and a team of BCCI had visited Maldives to take forward their cricketing ties.
Modi said India and Maldives were “flowers of the same orchard” and said New Delhi will provide assistance in enriching cultural legacy of Maldives, conservation of its manuscripts and development of dictionary of the local language.
He said global conventions have been held on climate change and asked why it cannot be held on terrorism.
“I will expect that the world organisations and leading countries hold a global conference against terrorism in a time-bound manner so that the loopholes that are exploited by terrorists and their supporters are plugged. If there was delay, the coming generations will not forgive us,” he said.
India accuses Pakistan of indulging in cross-border terrorism.
Modi said India had firm focus on development of Maldives and this was guided by the needs of the neighbouring country.
“India will be a dependable, strong and leading partner in progress of Maldives. India is determined to further strengthen its unique friendship with Maldives,” he said.
He also said that India gives highest priority to its relationship with Maldives.
Modi said that the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy was a priority for his government and noted that India and Maldives have signed an agreement on ferry service to boost people-to-people ties.
Modi was invited to address Majlis at its first meeting. He said the relationship between the two countries is older than history and referred to trade between Maldives and Lothal in Gujarat, his home state.
He said India has stood with Maldives in every difficulty and the new and big election mandates have opened new roads to strengthen ties.
He referred to $1.4 billion economic package agreed during Solih’s visit to India, which was also his maiden visit after his election as President.
Modi also referred to concerns regarding climate change and said Malidives has taken several initiatives for sustainable development.
Among the agreements signed were on hydrology and passenger services.