AMRITSAR: The sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia (HoA), Istanbul Process which concluded here on Sunday focused on stabilising war-ravaged Afghanistan, development of a counter-terror framework and enhanced regional connectivity among the South and Central Asian countries.
With the spotlight on terror activities in the region, the neighbouring nations joined hands to combat terror outfits such as Haqqani Network, Al Qaid, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad besides others.
“The core issue which was discussed in the two-day conference was terrorism,” said finance minister Arun Jaitley after the conference.
The senior officials of 14 countries, including India, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, and representatives of 17 supporting nations unanimously adopted the Amritsar declaration that proposed them to remain concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region and the high level of violence caused by the Taliban, terrorist groups including ISIL / DAISH and its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other similar outfits.
“Acknowledging the support that terrorism derives in our region, we demand an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism. We recognise that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace, stability and cooperation in our region. We encourage the international community to continue to assist the government of Afghanistan. We strongly call for concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including the dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the HoA region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. In this regard, we call upon all states to take action against these terrorist entities in accordance with their respective national counter-terrorism policies, their international obligations and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 2006.Furthermore, we encourage early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus,” it stated.
Afghanistan deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai said, “We also see the problem of state-sponsored terror which obviously is counterproductive for them but also for the region as a whole at the same time.”
The declaration further stated, “We commend the government of Afghanistan in successfully pursuing peace talks with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar resulting in a peace agreement that sets a good precedent for future peace talks with all other armed groups.”
It further stated that recognising once again that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them are the gravest challenges that the Heart of Asia region and the rest of the international community face, and these problems would continue to pose a severe threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development and bilateral and regional cooperation.
“We reaffirm our recognition made in Islamabad last year that violent extremism facilitates, encourages and justifies acts of terrorism and violence and we undertake to introduce measures to curb the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. We recognise the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to extremist and terrorist networks. We realise that the radicalisation of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, can only be prevented by effective de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation strategies involving all the HoA countries,” it stated.