Heart of Asia conference - What is its agenda this year

Attended by representatives from over 30 countries, the sixth annual HOA conference will primarily focus on setting up an anti-terrorism framework to neutralise terror outfits that have been a recurrent cause of worry for both India and Afghanistan.

Updated: Dec 03, 2016, 09:04 AM IST
Heart of Asia conference - What is its agenda this year

Mumbai: The two-day Heart of Asia Conference will be held on Saturday in Amritsar in the wake of the brazen Nagrota terror attack. The annual conference of the HOA Istanbul Process, which provides a platform to assist Afghanistan during its transition, will focus on the threat from terror outfits operation from Pakistani soil.

Both India and Afghanistan, that have been victims of terrorism originating from Pakistan, believe that an effective system to counter terrorism must be set up in order to restore peace and stability in the region.

Attended by representatives from over 30 countries, the sixth annual HOA conference will primarily focus on setting up an anti-terrorism framework to neutralise terror outfits that have been a recurrent cause of worry for both India and Afghanistan.

A declaration is expected to be issued at the end of the conference and it could focus on ways to deal with terrorism.

India is likely to ask countries in the region to show strong resolve to tackle terrorism. Afghanistan, that shares similar sentiments, feels that collective measures must be taken to fight terrorism and uproot safe havens that breed terrorists.

Joint Secretary in the MEA Gopal and Afghan Envoy Shaida M Abdali held a joint press conference to speak about India and Afghanistan’s views on terrorism and the role of the Heart of Asia conference in tackling the menace.

India is expected to discuss specifics on what should be done and how to deal with those who support and glorify terrorists.

"Terrorism is the greatest threat to the region and we expect the HoA to approve the regional counter terrorism framework that has been drafted by Afghanistan and circulated to HoA countries. We hope the conference will adopt it," Abdali said, strongly condemning the Nagrota attack.

Afghanistan was pushing for "binding" clauses in the framework to effectively contain terror infrastructure. He said terrorism is a multifaceted phenomena which requires a "multifaceted approach" and should include dismantling the "terror matrix", tackling drug trafficking and effectively dealing with radicalisation.

Abdali said terrorism is "creation of the region and the solution lies in the region. Therefore the upcoming HoA is very well timed".

The Afghan envoy said terror must be dealt with effectively not only for sake of countries like India and Afghanistan but also for people in the country where "terrorism is nurtured."

India will echo Afghanistan’s views on terrorism. "Terrorism is the biggest challenge which has beset the whole region. It (terror) is responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. It is a major threat to regional peace and stability. We have to discuss this question and we have to face it very squarely. I think the HoA Ministerial conference provides us with the opportunity required to face the challenge head on," Baglay said.

"Threat of Terrorism is the biggest challenge to peace and stability to the region. There is support to it in our region and where the problem lies we all know. It needs to be sqaurely addressed," he added.

The conference, whose theme is security and prosperity, will also deliberate on major connectivity initiatives including Chabahar project, a five nation railway project. There may be deliberations on TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India) gas pipeline project.

(With PTI inputs)