Manila - The Philippines and Pakistan - both grappling with Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in their midst - have signed a pact to boost cooperation in combating terrorism and transnational crime. This includes sharing intelligence on suspected criminals.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed during Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s three-day visit to the Philippines this week. Under the pact, both countries vowed to “facilitate cooperation and inter-operability between their security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies".
The agreement will enable the two countries to exchange intelligence about regional terrorism, including information on Al-Qaeda terrorists and their movements.Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has been tracking down key Taliban operatives ever since the Islamic militia fell from power in Afghanistanin 2001.
Key Al-Qaeda suspects are believed to have used the southern Philippine island of Mindanao as a training base and Manila as a recruitment centre for future jihadis.
According to The Manila Times, the Philippines will benefit from the pact “since local hardline Islamists were schooled in the doctrines of Osama bin Laden and are working to remain in the good graces of foreign terrorist organisations associated with him”.
“Had such cooperation existed earlier, it could have helped in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, an Al-Qaeda lieutenant convicted in the US of bombing New York'sWorld Trade Centerin 1993,” the newspaper said.
Yousef, who in 1995 was plotting to blow up American airliners from Manila, was arrested in Pakistan.
In a speech before the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines on April 20, President Musharraf spoke of the need to deal with the root causes of terrorism. “We all know that the world is in turmoil. We are groping for resolutions, remedies and answers to the problems. But we need to deal with the root of the problem and that includes political disputes, poverty, lack of educational values,” he added.
* Address terror’s roots and you lick it, says Musharraf (The Manila Times, April 21)
* The Musharraf visit (The Manila Times, April 21)
* Philippines and Pakistan to fight terror together (The Straits Times, April 20)