Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  

Fight Against Terrorism
Pakistan agrees to work with 10 SE Asia nations

Pakistan agreed Friday to cooperate with 10 Southeast Asian nations to fight terrorism, saying it needed the help of all countries to root out the menace.

Pakistan signed an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) anti-terror cooperation agreement as meetings of Asia's top security body, the ASEAN Regional Forum, wound up in the Lao capital Vientiane.

New Zealand also signed the agreement, which South Korea put its name to on Wednesday.

Other signatories are Australia, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Terrorism is a particular concern for Pakistan, where Al Qaeda-linked militants are alleged to be hiding in remote tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.

The country launched a crackdown on extremists after the three of the men behind the attacks on London's transport system on July 7 were found to have visited Pakistan before the bombings.

Authorities rounded up 600 suspected militants and Islamic clerics in a week-long crackdown after the bombings, officials said.

Pakistan is also a key US ally in its "war on terrorism", launched after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The agreement with ASEAN "means we will be having a more cooperative exchange of information and intelligence-sharing between Pakistan and the ASEAN community," a Pakistani diplomat told AFP.

"Pakistan requires the help of all the countries within and without the region in helping to eliminate this menace of terrorism ... and ASEAN needs Pakistan as well," he said.