NEW DELHI: Reaffirming its strong commitment to peace and stability of Afghanistan, India today said the war-ravaged country can emerge as a hub of trade and energy arteries and that it was the responsibility of all nations in the region to help it embark on the path of development.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, addressing Senior Officials Meeting of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process, said a collective approach was required to help Afghanistan deal with challenge of violence and instability.
"For our stable and prosperous region, a strong, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan is an imperative. Such an Afghanistan will be a bridge of connectivity between East and West, and Central and South Asia," he said.
The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process was established in 2011 to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbors.
"To achieve progress and prosperity together, we need to address challenges together. This is not only in Afghanistan’s interest, but in the interest of the whole of the Heart of Asia region.
"It is our collective and individual responsibility to help and support Afghanistan in combating the challenges it faces to its stability and security," Singh said.
Pitching for developing trade routes to Afghanistan, he said connectivity in the region has to be the centrepiece of efforts to enhance trade, commerce and investment among countries in the region.
"It can help fully harness Afghanistan's trade and transit potential. It will also serve to tap Afghanistan's vast natural and human resources. Afghanistan can emerge as a hub of regional trade and energy arteries," said Singh.
He said Afghanistan, Iran and India are waiting to develop trilateral transit route through Chabahar in Iran and that New Delhi is also willing to avail of other regional and trans-regional connectivity initiatives such as the North – South Transport Corridor and the Ashgabat Agreement.
"Creating more employment opportunities is also important to wean (away) youth lured to narcotics, extremism, terrorism and other criminal activities. More jobs and economic avenues in Afghanistan would create the conducive conditions for Afghans to stay and contribute to its development," said Singh.