New Delhi, Nov 15 (ANI): Asserting that terrorism continues to be a problem for nations in South Asia, Defence Minister A.K Antony today said that the gamut of security issues facing various nations in the region is largely non-traditional and asymmetric.
Inaugurating the 5th South Asia Conference on Cooperative Security at the Institute of Defence Stadies and Analysis here, Antony said: "Increasingly, non-state actors with cross national linkages pose critical challenges. Nations need to draw up collective and innovative measures to effectively counter such evil designs".
Welcoming the foreign delegates including those from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other South Asian countries, Antony said that asymmetries among countries in South Asia need not stand in the way of regional cooperation.
"Asymmetries in size, resources and military capabilities must be used as "building blocks" to enhance cooperation-and not be allowed to become "blocks" to regional cooperation," he added.
Pointing out that India has recently signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan and a Framework Cooperation Agreement has been drawn up with Bangladesh, Antony advocated bilateral and regional defence cooperation including exchange of delegations.
"We pay special attention to defence cooperation by increasing the frequency of defence exchanges with defence forces from a large number of friendly countries. These defence exchanges are aimed at enhancing capacity building, training and cooperation among friendly nations. Indian defence forces have made a significant contribution towards disaster management and humanitarian relief work and received widespread appreciation for their efforts," he added.
Exhorting a regional security model on the patterns of South East Asia and Central Asia, Antony mooted a cooperative security architecture focusing on issues related to soft security.
"The ambit of the concept of security today includes a range of other issues affecting human security. Several UN summits have been held in the past two decades on diverse issues pertaining to human security viz- population, food, information, society, environment and climate change. This expansion in the concept of national security has created new opportunities for cooperation between nation states," he said.
"India too has set up regular mechanisms of dialogue and cooperation with SAARC countries at bilateral level. We must further expand the scope of such discussions to include issues pertaining to human security. At the non-official level, there is an even greater scope for expanding the dialogue and further intensifying people-to-people contacts," he added. (ANI)