Pakistan-backed terror to be focus of Heart of Asia conference, say India and Afghanistan
In the wake of the brazen Nagrota attack, India and Afghanistan would seek to isolate Pakistan on terror at the two-day Heart of Asia conference beginning Saturday in Amritsar as the two countries today pitched for a regional counter-terror framework to effectively deal with the menace.
New Delhi: In the wake of the brazen Nagrota attack, India and Afghanistan would seek to isolate Pakistan on terror at the two-day Heart of Asia conference beginning Saturday in Amritsar as the two countries today pitched for a regional counter-terror framework to effectively deal with the menace.
Identifying terror emanating from Pakistan as the "greatest threat" to regional peace and stability, India and Afghanistan said the Heart of Asia -- Istanbul Process, a platform to assist the war-ravaged country in restoration efforts, provides an opportunity to face the challenge "head on".
Afghanistan has been pushing for finalising an effective counter-terror framework to deal with terror at the conference which will be attended by representatives from over 30 countries including China, the US, Russia, Pakistan and Iran.
Pakistan Prime Minister's Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz will represent Islamabad at the conference amid heightened tension between the two countries in the wake of the Nagrota army camp attack in which seven officers and jawans were killed.
Asked during a briefing on Pakistan's willingness for a bilateral meeting with India on the sidelines of the conference, Joint Secretary in the MEA Gopal Baglay said,"We have not received any request for a bilateral meeting." There was indication that posibility of an Indo-Pak bilateral meeting was remote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on Sunday where the Indian delegation will be led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the absence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is ill.
"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, addressing a joint press conference with Afghan ambassador to New Delhi Shaida M Abdali.
On his part, the Afghan envoy said there was a need to take collective measures to fight terrorism and uproot the "breeding ground" of the menace and its "safe sanctuaries", in obvious reference to Pakistan.
"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," he said, strongly condemning the Nagrota attack.
Abdali said Afghanistan was pushing for "binding" clauses in the counter-terror framework to effectively contain terror infrastructure. Afghanistan has been facing terror strikes by militant groups based in Pakistan.
Asked what role HoA can play in containing terror, Baglay said specifics on what should be done and how to deal with those who "support and glorify" terrorists will be discussed.
"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 said. .