Heart of Asia conference: India asked to help rebuild Afghan education sector

Officials have also suggested that Iran should be proposed to become co-lead country for the trade, commerce and investment opportunities CBMs’ subgroup.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: November 30, 2016 1:05 am

AS PRIME Minister Narendra Modi hosts the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar in December, senior officials from 14 countries, including China and Pakistan, have proposed that India should take a lead in development of the education sector in Afghanistan and become co-lead countries in the education confidence-building measure (CBM) sub-committee.

Similarly, officials from participating countries have proposed that China should be part of the “regional infrastructure” CBM subgroup given the “important role it plays in regional infrastructure development”.

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Officials have also suggested that Iran should be proposed to become co-lead country for the trade, commerce and investment opportunities CBMs’ subgroup.

“These would help broaden membership of the CBMs and add more weight to planning and implementation of CBMs,” the officials are learnt to have recommended in a report to the ministers, who are members of the Heart of Asia process.

This comes in the wake of Afghanistan proposing a “well-defined Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy” to combat security challenges in the region, a top Afghan diplomat said.

“We have proposed adopting a well-defined Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy through which we can secure Afghanistan and stabilise our region of interdependent economies,” the diplomat said.

The draft of the strategy has been shared with India, which is the co-chair for the Heart of Asia process.

“We expect the draft to be adopted in the upcoming Heart of Asia summit in Amritsar,” an official said. This strategy, once adopted, will make it “binding” for member-countries to not give shelter to terrorists and terror infrastructure.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali had recently said that the “Heart of Asia” governments had agreed that implementation of non-interference in Afghanistan requires “resolutely combating and eliminating terrorism; dismantling terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens; and acknowledging that terrorism is a threat to international peace and security”.

Indian officials said that New Delhi is keen that all these proposals are adopted. “This conference will have some substantive outcomes, and India will be firmly placed at the development matrix of Afghanistan,” a government official said.