December 4, 2016 7:37:03 pm
Leaders from 40 different countries congregated in Amritsar to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference that began on Sunday. The theme of the annual event this year was “addressing challenges, achieving prosperity.” Issues discussed included terrorism threat, security situation and extremism. The focus of the discussion was Afghanistan and the need to help the country formalise a counter terror network as it gears up to undergo transition. The conference recognised terrorism as the biggest threat to peace.
Here are some of the highlights of the event:
Doval, Aziz interact amid tension: Amid intense strain in Indo-Pak ties in the wake of Nagrota terror strike and intensified cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had a brief interaction. Aziz and Doval had a short informal chat after Foreign Ministers of five countries called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night in a group. The call on by the foreign ministers preceded an official dinner attended by representatives of almost all countries participating in the
Heart of Asia (HoA) conference. During the dinner, Aziz exchanged pleasantries with Modi.
Ghani slams Pak on terror: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of launching an “undeclared war” on his country by covertly supporting several terror networks including the Taliban, and noted that there were no hidden deals in India’s growing engagement in the war-ravaged country. In his address, Ghani, who severely criticised Islamabad, said an Asian or international mechanism must be put in place, without “playing games”, to find out who was benefiting from terror, extremism and other illicit activities.
Aziz rakes up IndoPak ties: Under severe attack over terrorism emanating from its soil, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz hit back saying it is “simplistic” to blame one country. Aziz asserted his attending the meet despite “escalation” along the LoC was testimony to Pakistan’s “unflinching” commitment for lasting peace in Afghanistan and expressed unhappiness over cancellation of SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November, terming it as a setback to regional cooperation. Noting that Pakistan was aware about serious challenges being faced by Afghanistan, Aziz said, “The first and foremost in our view is continuing violence and acts of terrorism claiming scores of human lives. This needs to be addressed urgently and effectively through collective efforts. The security situation in Afghanistan is very complex. It is simplistic to blame only one country for the recent upsurge in violence. We need to have an objective and holistic view.”
Modi’s indirect attack against Pakistan: In a clear message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for “resolute action” not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them, saying silence and inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters. Modi said the growing arc of terrorist violence is posing the gravest threat to the region. “Terrorism and externally induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity. And, the growing arc of terrorist violence endangers our entire region. As such, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action. Not just against forces of terrorism, but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them,” the PM said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.
Terrorism declared biggest threat to peace: After the two-day deliberations, the HoA issued the Amritsar Declaration which called for dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terror networks. The HoA expressed serious concern over gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan and in many parts of the region, holding that united efforts are required to contain terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, IS and its affiliates, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist groups.
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