Islamabad: A joint statement issued at the end of talks today between India’s Extranal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz, the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaj Sharif condemns terrorism in categorical terms.
Through the statement both counntries have expressed their resolve to cooperate to eliminate terrorism. They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs of India and Pakistan and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.
Both sides, accoirding, have agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the Foreign Secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the Dialogue including Peace and Security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counterterrorism, Narcotics Control and Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and Religious Tourism.
Sushma Swaraj landed in Pakistan yesterday to lead the Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015.
She called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with his Adviser Sartaj Aziz tooday.
We are here together today due to our commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development and our faith in its future -Sushma Swaraj
Statement by External Affairs Minister at the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process
December 09, 2015
Your Excellency Mr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Your Excellency Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen
It is a matter of immense happiness for me to participate in this, the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process.
I join my other colleagues in thanking the Government of Pakistan for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements.
We are here together today due to our commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development and our faith in its future.
The Heart of Asia process provides an important platform for friends of Afghanistan from its immediate and extended neighbourhood to promote political consultations and regional cooperation for a united, democratic, independent, strong and prosperous Afghanistan. My presence here underlines India’s strong commitment to that cause.
The theme of today’s meeting combines cooperation with security and connectivity. This is particularly relevant to Heart of Asia. India’s vision of this process is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub.
Connectivity also lies at the heart of India’s own efforts to develop regional economic cooperation.
The ‘Heart’ of Asia cannot function if arteries are clogged.
Nothing can benefit Afghanistan more immediately than full and direct overland access to India’s markets to enable it to take advantage of the zero duty regime available to its exports to India.
Similarly, if Afghan trucks could carry Indian products to markets in Afghanistan and Central Asia, that would be the best way to make trucking from Afghanistan cost-effective and viable, and bestow benefits to the whole region.
India is willing to receive Afghan trucks on its territory, at Attari, and create necessary facilities for Afghan products there.
We have also formally indicated our willingness to join the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement.
India is also working with Afghanistan and Iran to develop trilateral transit. Participation in development of the Chahbahar Port will augment our connectivity with Afghanistan and beyond.
India’s engagement in the Trade, Commerce and Investment (TCI) CBM within the Heart of Asia process as the lead country complements our bilateral development cooperation with Afghanistan, including in the spheres of infrastructure, connectivity and capacity building.
Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.
For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements.
Democracy is taking roots in Afghanistan. We acknowledge the role of President Ghani and CEO Dr. Abdullah in building on the strong foundation created by former President Karzai to ensure peaceful, democratic and inclusive governance for the whole of Afghanistan.
However, as noted by the UN Secretary General in his latest report on Afghanistan, the country continues to face intersecting challenges. Afghanistan is threatened most by terrorism and not tribal or ethnic rivalries.
In the last few months, terrorism in Afghanistan has grown in both intensity and scope. Terrorists have made concerted efforts to capture and hold territory, reminding us that they have not changed.
We salute the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan people for countering the forces of terrorism and extremism with courage and resilience. They need the continued support of the international community to defend Afghanistan’s unity and security.
For its part, India is ready to work with Afghanistan to strengthen its defensive capability.
It is also the collective duty of all of us to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation. We, in Afghanistan’s proximity, have a particular responsibility in this regard.
An end to terrorism and extremism, and adherence to internationally accepted redlines are essential for reconciliation and lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Here in Islamabad, we are close to the millennia-old highway which an Afghan-origin ruler of Delhi named Sher Shah Suri restored and upgraded, over 450 years ago. Connecting Kolkata and Kabul in later centuries, that road exists even today as the Grand Trunk Road, reminding us of our shared destiny.
The honour to host the sixth Ministerial of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process in 2016 in India will help us highlight the age-old message of that great artery connecting peoples and lands.