Setting the stage for cornering Pakistan at the Heart of Asia conference on December 3 and 4, Indian and Afghanistan officials on Wednesday indicated that terrorism originating in Pakistan is the “greatest threat” to regional peace and stability. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will co-chair the Heart of Asia conference along with his Afghanistan counterpart, Hetmat Karzai. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on Sunday.
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Afghanistan’s envoy Shaida Abdali, in a joint press conference at the Ministry of External Affairs, said terrorism is “creation of the region and the solution lies in the region. Therefore the upcoming Heart of Asia conference is very well timed.”
Abdali said terror must be dealt with effectively — not only for the sake of countries such as India and Afghanistan but also for people in the country where “terrorism is nurtured”.
In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Abdali said there is a need to take collective measures to fight terrorism and uproot the “breeding ground” of the menace and its “safe sanctuaries”. He said, “Terrorism is the greatest threat to the region and we expect the Heart of Asia to approve the regional counter-terrorism framework that has been drafted by Afghanistan and circulated to Heart of Asia countries. We hope the conference will adopt it.”
Ministry of External Affairs’ joint secretary (in charge of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran), Gopal Baglay said, “Terrorism is the biggest challenge which has beset the whole region. It (terror) is responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. It is a major threat to regional peace and stability. We have to discuss this question and we have to face it very squarely. I think the Heart of Asia ministerial conference provides us with the opportunity required to face the challenge head on.”
Asked what role the conference can play in containing terror, Baglay said specifics on what should be done and how to deal with those who support and glorify terrorists will be discussed. “Threat of terrorism is the biggest challenge to peace and stability to the region. There is support to it in our region, and where the problem lies we all know. It needs to be squarely addressed,” he said.
Abdali said Afghanistan is pushing for “binding” clauses in the framework to effectively contain terror infrastructure.