Terrorism, enhanced connectivity to top agenda of Heart of Asia meet

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 01, 2016

Shaida Abdali, Afghanistan Ambassador to India

Two-day meet in Amritsar begins tomorrow; 30 nations to participate

Terrorism emanating from the South Asian region and the political will to fight and eradicate it will be the main agenda of the upcoming sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia (HoA), Istanbul Process. The conference will also focus on improving connectivity with Afghanistan.

The conference, which India is hosting for the first time in Amritsar from December 3-4, will see participation from over 30 countries, including China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and the US.

“Terrorism is something that Afghanistan has suffered the most. And we all know it is Pakistan that continues to support state-sponsored terrorism and turns a blind eye to cross-border terrorism. This will be the main agenda of the talks, undoubtedly,” a senior official told BusinessLine requesting anonymity.

The HoA was launched in an effort to improve the security situation of the war-torn country thereby improving connectivity to the region in an effort to make it a hub for trade and commerce.

According to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida M Abdali, terrorism is a “continuous threat” to the country. He urged for collective measures to fight terrorism and its breeding ground.

“We all know, terrorism is a creation of this region and the solution lies within this region only,” Abdali said hinting at Pakistan.

In an effort to contain terrorism and thereby developing the region, the Afghan government held reconciliatory talks with the Taliban under a so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China.

But the process has not been successful owing to the rapid deterioration of ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The deteriorating ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to remain a hurdle in the talks. But the Heart of Asia is a process where the US and China also get a platform to discuss issues concerning terrorism, which is most important. Unless there is a radical change in Pakistan’s policies, the situation will not change,” said Kanwal Sibal, former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is also keen to revive the old financial linkages with India. And in this it is important to understand why Amritsar was chosen as the venue for the meeting.

“Amritsar was the original wholesale market for agricultural products of Afghanistan. That traditional wholesale market has to be revived and that is crucial for the revival of the Afghan economy,” said former Ambassador Rakesh Sood, who has also served in Afghanistan and Nepal.

Published on December 01, 2016
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