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India to highlight Pakistan role in sponsoring terror

ASHOK TUTEJA | New Delhi |

India will raise the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistan against its neighbours at the ‘Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process’ conference to be held in Azerbaijan on 30 November-1 December to consider measures to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Official sources here said Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, who is expected to lead the Indian delegation, would also highlight how Pakistan continued to provide safe havens to terrorists against the backdrop of the recent release from house arrest of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who will lead his delegation at the meeting, is also expected to speak about the role of Pakistani agencies in subversive activities in his war-torn nation, resulting in further deterioration in the security situation there.

India is also likely to talk about the Chabahar port in Iran through which it has already started sending wheat for the people of Afghanistan as part of its humanitarian assistance.

Sources pointed out that it was now fully recognised by the international community that of all the countries in the region, India has been most constructively engaged in the reconstruction and rebuilding process in Afghanistan. The key areas of India’s engagement have been infrastructure development, socio-economic growth and capacity-building.

Apart from India, representatives from Azerbaijan, Russia, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and United Nations organisations would participate in the conference.

The ‘Heart of Asia’ is an important regional platform for political dialogue and close cooperation aimed at promoting stability, peace and prosperity in the region and for enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with its neighbours.

The conference in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku coincides with the Council of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Heads of Government meeting at Sochi in Russia at which India would be represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The SCO meeting is also expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The ‘Heart of Asia’ conferences are held annually at the level of Foreign Ministers. The first conference of the member countries was held in Istanbul in Turkey in November 2011. The last meet under the process was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Amritsar in December last year.