| Thinley at Rawalpindi airport. (AFP)
Islamabad, Jan. 4: Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley did not mince words when he said: “While we take comfort in the failure of the attempts on the life of H.E. President Musharraf, we cannot but see it as yet another rude reminder of our lack of will to root out the menace of terrorism.”
In saying so boldly, he proved that geographical size need not come in the way of speaking the truth.
Thinley said South Asia had been living with the nightmare of terrorism and there was a need to immediately and forcefully implement the Saarc multilateral obligations to suppress the menace.
The Additional Protocol to the Saarc Convention on Terrorism, which lists these multilateral obligations, is to be signed at the summit here tomorrow.
In a direct reference to the thaw in India-Pakistan relations, Bhutan welcomed the “winds of rapprochement that are blowing across our region”.
But it also warned that “there will always be those who will see profit in conflict and instability and will attempt to derail any moves towards reconciliation and peace”.
The Bhutan Prime Minister urged the member countries of Saarc to ensure that “the just fate” of such people “is and must be rejection, isolation and ignominy”.
In saying all this and more, the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan took full credit for doing what it urged other Saarc nations to emulate — to act against terrorism and make South Asia safe and secure.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister recalled how three armed extremist groups from India had sneaked into Bhutan and established 30 camps in the dense jungles of the kingdom.
“The strategically located camps were used to train insurgents, store arms and ammunition, and to launch terrorist attacks inside India,” he said.
He described how their presence impeded trade, led to the closure of several large industries and educational institutions and inhibited socio-economic development. Innocent people in Bhutan, Assam and Bengal became “victims of threat, coercion, and extortion”, and misunderstanding was sought to be created between Bhutan and India, Thinley said.
After exploring a peaceful option through dialogue for six years without any success, the Bhutan Prime Minister said, his nation was compelled to take military action. This, he said, had been successful.
Bhutan, Thinley said, regretted the loss of lives on both sides. However, the Bhutan Prime Minister said: “Our comfort comes with the knowledge that we have contributed to creating a safe and secure environment for socio-economic development in Bhutan and the neighbouring regions of India.
“Hopefully, we would have contributed in some measure to eradication of the evil of terrorism in South Asia.”