Amritsar Declaration adopted at the 6th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia
The nations were concerned by high level of violence in Afghanistan caused by Taliban and other terror groups including Islamic State and its affiliates LeT, JeM and others.
The 6th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) concluded on 4 December 2016 after adopting the Amritsar Declaration. The declaration recognised terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and demands an immediate end to all forms of terrorism.
The Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference held in Amritsar was co-chaired by Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister and Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It saw the participation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries.
The Sixth Ministerial Conference was inaugurated by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.
Highlights of the Amritsar Declaration
- Participating nations, for the first time, expressed concerns about the high-level of violence in Afghanistan caused by
- Taliban and other terror groups including Islamic State and its affiliates Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and others.
- Declaration recognised the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to extremist and terrorist networks.
- It calls for immediate end to all forms of terrorism including support to it in any form including financing or tactical and logistical support to it.
- The document called all states to take action against terrorist entities in accordance with their respective national counter-terrorism policies, their international obligations and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 2006.
- It called for early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) with consensus.
- It says that radicalisation of disaffected elements of the population, especially youth, can only be prevented by effective de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation strategies involving all the Heart of Asia countries.
Menace of Drug
- Participating nations displayed their concern on the increase of production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan and drug trafficking.
- The declaration calls for efforts that help in eradicating the drug menace that poses a threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability of Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia region.
Connectivity and economic cooperation
- The declaration acknowledges the crucial role of Afghanistan as a natural land bridge, which helps in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration in the region.
- It stresses that connectivity and economic development will contribute to achieving peace and stability in the region including Afghanistan.
- It will help in enhancing regional economic integration.
- The declaration welcomes the practical implementation of TAPI and completion of the first stage of the Asian International Railway Corridor between Imamnazar, Turkmenistan, and Aqina, Afghanistan -- the initial stages of TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
- It also encourages implementation of the multinational energy and connectivity projects of TUTAP, CASA-1000, the five-nation railways, Chabahar agreement, TAT linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan by rail. It would play a central role in strengthening regional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia and further forge economic connectivity and growth in the region.
- IT also welcomes the MoU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between the China and Afghanistan. All these will lay the foundations for a successful Seventh Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) planned for November 2017 in Ashgabat.
Besides, the participants reaffirmed their commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes enshrined in the Declarations of previous five Conferences that have defined the ideals for the working of the HoA-IP aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity. The previous five Ministerial Conferences were held in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013), Beijing (2014), and Islamabad (2015).
The declaration reaffirmed that importance of the HOA-IP as an important regional platform for political dialogue and close regional cooperation. It would help in promoting stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and Heart of Asia region. It will also help in enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with the entire region.
The declaration calls to resolve the difference in a peaceful manner and refraining threat or force against the political independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of any state.
The Amritsar Declaration was adopted by the Foreign Ministers and the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process. The participating nations of the conference were India, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations.
Besides, Azerbaijan displayed its willingness to host the seventh Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in 2017.
Countries that supported the declaration of the conference: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Arab Egypt, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States.
International and regional organisations that supported the declaration of the conference: Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Economic Cooperation Organizations (ECO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Collective Security Treaty Organizations (CSTO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).