On a day when the sixth anniversary of Mumbai attack is being observed, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, today told the SAARC leaders that India feels the “endless pain” of lost lives and urged the eight-nation grouping to combat terrorism unitedly.

Modi made a reference to the Mumbai carnage that claimed 166 lives in his address to the 18th SAARC Summit during when he reached out to the South Asian countries, announcing business visas to India for three to five years and immediate medical visa for the patient and an attendant coming to the country for medical treatment.

“Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives. Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes,” Modi told the SAARC leaders who include the Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

Besides India and Pakistan, the other SAARC countries were Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan.

Good neighbourhood

Noting that a good neighbourhood is a universal aspiration, Modi said, “If we are sensitive to each other’s security, and the lives of our people, we will deepen friendships, spur cooperation and advance stability in our region.”

He said the South Asia is a region of thriving democracy; of rich inheritance; the unmatched strength of youth; and, a strong thirst for change and progress.

“I dream for India is the future I wish for our entire region,” he said.

The Prime Minister praised the SAARC leaders for attending his inauguration ceremony in May, saying “I stepped into the office with the greetings of the entire world. But, what moved me, dear colleagues, was your personal presence.”

Sharing his experience of foreign visits, Modi said that “from the middle of the Pacific, to the southern coast of Atlantic Ocean, I see a rising tide of integration.”

International partnerships

Stating that the barriers of boundaries inhibit progress, Modi said international partnerships add speed to growth.

“Nowhere in the world are collective efforts more urgent than in South Asia; and, nowhere else is it so modest. Big and small, we face the same challenges — a long climb to the summit of development.

“But, I have great belief in our boundless potential; and, confidence — that comes from the many inspiring stories of innovation and initiative in each of our countries,” he said, adding that there is much to learn from each other.

Though the SAARC formed 30 years ago, when we speak of SAARC, we usually hear two reactions — “cynicism and scepticism”, he said.

“Let us work to change cynicism into optimism. Let us turn South Asia of flowering hope into a rich field of peace and prosperity,” he told the SAARC leaders