Heart of Asia conference taking place in Islamabad

Representatives from Asian countries holding Heart of Asia-Istanbul process meeting in Pakistani capital in Islamabad to discuss joint strategy against growing terrorism threat in region

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The Heart of Asia conference could improve ties between Islamabad and Kabul

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul process meeting started on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in order to discuss the regional issue, giving priority to the growing terrorism threat.  

The first leg of the two-day conference is being held in Pakistani capital, Islamabad and it will continue with the attendance of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday.  

During the inauguration ceremony, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai and Pakistani prime minister's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz expressed hope that the conference will help to develop a joint strategy against the threat of terrorism and militancy in the region.

"The wave of terrorist activities, including those of DAESH in various parts of the region and the world, once again reminds us of the gravity of this menace confronting today's humanity and the urgency for a united position against this evil phenomenon," Karzai said.

The meeting aim to actualise coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbours to tackle common threats including terrorism, narcotics, poverty and militancy.

Foreign ministers of 10 countries, including India, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan will also focus on energy, infrastructure and investment deals during the two-day conference.  

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the Fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process meeting on Wednesday.

It is expected that Sharif and Ghani will gather and promote relations in the meeting after years of acrimony between the two countries.  

Many Afghans including Ghani's political opponents blame Pakistan for backing Taliban although he denies the claims over supporting the terrorist organisation in their fight with the Afghan government, also stating that Pakistan wants peaceful relations with its neighbouring countries.

Inaugural talks between the Afghan Taliban and Afghan government took place in Pakistan in July, however, the effort to curb the 14-year insurgency pended following the news that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for two years.

News of Omar's death cause a bedlam inside of the Taliban and stalled hopes for reaching negotiation with the group.  

Last week, the new leader of the Afghan Taliban faction, Omar's former deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was reportedly killed or wounded by opponents but the group released an audio message allegedly with the voice of Mansour to prove that he is still alive. Some members of the group are still suspicious concerning the authenticity of the audio message.

TRTWorld and agencies