Finalization of international counter-terror convention
AMRITSAR: The Heart of Asia Conference Sunday called for concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism in its all forms and manifestations, and laid stress on early finalisation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.
The ‘Amritsar Declaration’ issued at the conclusion of the 6th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia conference – held in Amritsar, India – also called for “dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism”.
Co-chaired by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, the conference recognised terrorism as the biggest threat to regional peace and cooperation.
The participants of the meeting called upon all the states to take action against the terrorist entities in accordance with their respective national counter terrorism policies, their international obligations and the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy 2006.
The participants recalled the five ministerial conferences in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013), Beijing (2014), and Islamabad (2015) and reaffirmed commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes enshrined in the declarations
The meeting commended countries in the region and beyond, particularly Iran and Pakistan, for their hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades and called upon them to continue hosting the Afghan refugees until their sustainable repatriation and reintegration in Afghanistan can take place in a voluntary, safe, gradual and dignified fashion, in accordance with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Communities.
It welcomed the Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan-Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on Voluntary Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran and Pakistan, and supported the final statement of the UNHCR executive committee, refocusing the international community’s attention on the Afghan refugee situation in this critical period.
The conference recognised the role of cultural heritage as a catalyst for social and economic development of the Heart of Asia region.
The participants reaffirmed commitment to the UN Charter and its enshrined principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states as well as universally recognised principles and norms of international law.
The conference reaffirmed commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reiterated the importance of increased political dialogue and consultations between countries of the Heart of Asia region for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region.
It was also stressed to advance regional cooperation as an effective mean to address common challenges and to promote security, stability and socio-economic development in the Heart of Asia region.
The conference reaffirmed appreciation and expressed strong and unequivocal support for the ongoing constructive efforts of the Afghan government towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an increasing environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.
The participants appreciated the commitment of the international community for supporting the government and people of Afghanistan and stressed the need for continuation of such support for achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
The conference commended the European Union and Afghanistan for convening the October 4-5 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, and recognise importance of the development assistance commitments made by over 100 countries and international organisations.
The conference appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Afghanistan to convene the International Ulema Conference in Makkah with inclusive representation of the Islamic countries, and expressed hope that a positive outcome would contribute to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The participants expressed concern over security situation in the region, particularly Afghanistan, and violence caused by terrorist groups including Daesh, al Qaeda, and others extremist groups.
The conference lauded the Afghan government for making a peace deal with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
The declaration mentioning the challenges ahead recognised that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them were the gravest issues that the Heart of Asia region and the rest of the international community face.
The conference termed terrorism, extremism a severe threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development and bilateral and regional cooperation and renewed its strong commitment to strengthening comprehensive cooperation among the Heart of Asia countries and intensify efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations through solidarity and collective action.
The Heart of Asia moot also vowed to introduce measures to curb spread of violent extremism and terrorism. It noted that radicalisation of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, could only be prevented by effective de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation strategies involving all the Heart of Asia countries.
It was agreed to gather experts from the fields of security, education and local governance to meet in the first half of 2017 to identify key areas to be addressed for developing this regional approach and provide recommendations.
The declaration welcomed and supported Afghanistan’s initiative in taking the lead in exploring a regional counter-terror strategy as agreed in Islamabad in December 2015.
The conference expressed concern over increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan. The meeting emphasised to break the nexus between revenue and financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia region and globally.
The conference, while recognising that a politically negotiated settlement remains important for durable peace in Afghanistan, reiterated support to the government of Afghanistan in its efforts to advance an Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process. It urged Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government.
The moot welcomed the practical implementation of TAPI gas pipeline and completion of the first stage of the Asian International Railway Corridor. The conference also encouraged early implementation of multinational energy project CASA-1000.
The declaration was adopted in Amritsar by the foreign ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.