South Asia must fight ‘scourge of terrorism’: Indian PM

NEW DELHI, July 10, 2011 (AFP) – South Asian nations must make greater efforts to fight terrorism without relying on outside help, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a regional conference in New Delhi. Stressing that South Asia could prosper as a whole, Singh said there was a need to develop a “culture” in which the countries involved would be able to tackle the region’s deep frictions.

“The scourge of terrorism has taken a huge toll on all our societies. It is a cancer, that if not checked, will consume us all,” Singh told a gathering of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“I would like to believe that we have the will and foresight to prevent such an outcome,” Singh said on Saturday. “Others cannot solve our problems for us.”

Singh added the region’s youthful population was an opportunity but also a challenge. “Disaffection and alienation provide a fertile breeding ground for intolerance, violence and terrorism which then threaten our societies,” he said.

SAARC, founded in 1985, groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Critics have blamed its inability to exploit the region’s potential on the long an