The fifth Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan ended today with a commitment from member states to address the menace of terrorism and to foster close economic cooperation to stabilise the war-torn country.
Leaders and ministers from 14 member countries, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, 17 supporting nations and officials of 12 organisations attended the two-day meet here that adopted the Islamabad Declaration which also called on all Afghan Taliban groups to enter into peace talks.
Pakistan’s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan foreign minister Salahauddin Rabbani announced the declaration at the joint press conference.
Aziz said that the conference was a major success as the participants agreed on close cooperation in stabilising Afghanistan.
Rabbani shared the major points of the declaration in which the participants affirmed to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence and follow the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states.
He said that it was decided that militancy was major threat for Afghanistan and the region and joint efforts were needed to address it.
“We recognise that terrorism and violent extremism are constant and serious threats to regional and international peace, security, stability and economic growth,” according to the declaration.
It reiterated that terrorism, extremism and separatism, and linkages among them, pose a serious challenge to many of the countries, as well as the region and beyond, which can only be addressed through concerted efforts.
“We resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. While recognising the importance of international cooperation and coordination, any measure taken by states to prevent and combat terrorism must comply fully with our obligations under international law and the United Nations Charter,” it said.
The countries also agreed to put into practice specific measures and steps necessary for countering and eliminating the menace of terrorism, all terrorist organisations, in particular al-Qaeda, IS and their affiliates.
The participants also decided to take necessary actions to
deny terrorists access to financial and material resources, to dismantle their sanctuaries and training facilities, and to curtail their ability to recruit and train new terrorists.
The members agreed to resolve conflicts through peaceful negotiations and supported “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation initiatives”.
“We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed opposition groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government,” it said.
They also agreed to take measures for increasing cooperation and tasked the regional technical groups to come up with proposals for CBMs within three months to promote peace and stability.
They also welcomed willingness of India to host the next ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in 2016.
The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE.
The conference began yesterday with the meeting of senior officials of the participating nations.