Islamabad hosted Two-day fifth ministerial Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Conference in on December 8-9, 2015.
This conference was a part of on-going initiative known as “The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process”. The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey.
The main objective of the process is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promote long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan, and the region.
This year the theme of the Conference “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region.”
This conference targeted cementing regional ties through a set of Confidence Building Measures as sometimes India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not on one page to deal with important regional issues including the issue of terrorism.
The Conference was co-chaired by Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani.
Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference was attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and participants from 14 Participating States, 17 Supporting Countries, 12 International and Regional Organizations and Foreign Ministers.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the opening ceremony of the fifth Ministerial Conference.
Some other High-profile participating dignitaries included Indian External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Inaugurating the conference, the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called for early finalization of border management SOPs to contain terrorist’s movement across the border.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan has always emphasized a holistic approach for bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan.
“It is our firm belief that a robust and meaningful reconciliation process owned and led by Afghans, is vital for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
He said, “Pakistan is ready to extend support to a meaningful process, wherein both the Afghan Government and the Taliban can move forward, in a spirit of accommodation and reconciliation.”
Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s commitment and desire to facilitate the resumption of the stalled reconciliation process.
He also appreciated the support of friends for the Afghan reconciliation process.
“We believe that the association of China and the US in the reconciliation process has been instrumental in moving the process forward. Pakistan looks forward to continued engagement in achieving positive results in the reconciliation process.”
The Prime Minister said the Government and the people of Pakistan have demonstrated an unflinching resolve to uproot the menace of terrorism and violent extremism from their soil.
“The consensus-based military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and the National Action Plan have been remarkably successful in our campaign against terrorism and extremism (and) are delivering desired results.”
Afghan president addresses Conference
President Ashraf Ghani in his remarks identified the elements driving the conflict in his country including the Daesh, and the Taliban groups, both within Afghanistan and in the region.
“We are fighting against terrorists on behalf of all you, but the entire Afghan nation is suffering.”
He mentioned the “vicious attack” by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan at a school in Peshawar and said the Afghan government has till now launched 40 operations against the perpetrators.
He called for a mechanism of regional cooperation to check the criminal groups and deal with the network.
The Islamabad Declaration issued on December 9
The joint declaration issued at the end of fifth ministerial Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process reaffirmed the commitment by all member states to the principles and objectives to promote regional peace and prosperity with collective efforts.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes of these Conferences that have defined the parameters for the working of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity,” reiterated the participants in the Islamabad declaration issued at the end.
The participants of the conference believed that the pace of continuity demonstrated by the Heart of the Asia-Istanbul Process, in the past few years would continue in future, and the endeavours made under its auspices would manifest themselves in the achievement of goals of lasting peace, security, prosperity and growth of the region.
Through joint declaration, they reaffirmed the respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter to which they strongly adhere and reiterate the obligations of states to refrain in their international relations from the threat, or use of force, against the territorial integrity, or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations Charter.
Recognising the centrality of the United Nations in international affairs, they reiterated their support to the United Nations in coordinating international civilian efforts to contribute to peace, security and development of Afghanistan, as established by UN Resolution. They also adhered to the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states and commit to promote a multifaceted approach of regional integration based on trust, equality and dialogue.
The participants of the fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process realised the importance of the conference as an important regional initiative and platform aimed at a stable, peaceful, prosperous and developed Afghanistan that continues to complement other existing regional mechanisms and processes. They also recognised that the situation in Afghanistan, owing to its central location at the crossroads in Asia and its history, played a critical role in the dynamics of regional peace, security and economic growth.
They said that they believed in a secure, peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan, with its strong commitment to Human Rights which was not only in its own interest, but also vital to peace, stability and prosperity of the ‘Heart of Asia’ region as a whole, for which it was collective responsibility to help and support Afghanistan in combating the challenges it faced. They also assured to support the Government of Afghanistan’s constructive approach towards regional engagement and its commitment to build an environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.
They considered the conclusion of International Security Assistance Forces’ (ISAF) Mission in Afghanistan, an important step towards Afghan self-reliance and noted the initiation of the non-combat post ISAF Mission focusing on training, advising and assistance to Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), and hoped it would, therefore, contribute to the early realisation of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
They also commended the hospitality of Pakistan and Iran in hosting millions of Afghan refugees, for the last three decades, despite their own formidable challenges and limitations and urged the international community to provide them with adequate support. They welcomed the initiatives Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan-Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran respectively.
They urged the international community to provide adequate and sustained support and assistance including within the framework of the solutions strategy for Afghan refugees to enable their voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation and sustainable reintegration and resettlement in Afghanistan. They urged the Afghan government to take necessary measures to facilitate this process in close cooperation with host countries.
JOINT DECLARATION OF HEART OF ASIA – ISTANBUL PROCESS, ISLAMABAD DEC 2015
Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region
Islamabad, Pakistan, 09 December 2015
The Islamabad Declaration
- We, the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, as well as high-level representatives of supporting regional and international organizations, held the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process (HOA-IP) in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 09 December 2015. The Conference was co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and H.E. Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
- We express our gratitude to H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H.E. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, for attending the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference.
- Recalling the four Ministerial Conferences in Istanbul (2011), Kabul (2012), Almaty (2013) and Beijing (2014), which have been significant milestones that marked the conception, birth and initial steps of HOA-IP, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles, objectives, and outcomes of these Conferences that have defined the parameters for the working of HOA-IP aimed at promoting regional peace and prosperity.
- We believe that the pace of continuity demonstrated by the HOA-IP in the past few years would continue in the future, and the endeavors made under its auspices will manifest themselves in the achievement of goals of lasting peace, security, prosperity and growth of the region.
- We reaffirm our countries’ respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence, as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter to which we strongly adhere and reiterate the obligations of states to refrain in their international relations from the threat, or use of force, against the territorial integrity, or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the 2 United Nations Charter. Recognizing the centrality of the United Nations in international affairs, we reiterate our support to the United Nations in coordinating international civilian efforts to contribute to peace, security and development of Afghanistan, as established by UN Resolution 2210 (2015).
- We adhere to the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States and commit to promote a multifaceted approach of regional integration based on trust, equality and dialogue.
- We realize the importance of the HOA-IP as an important regional initiative and platform aimed at a stable, peaceful, prosperous and developed Afghanistan that continues to complement other existing regional mechanisms and processes.
- We recognize that the situation in Afghanistan, owing to its central location at the crossroads in Asia and its history, plays a critical role in the dynamics of regional peace, security and economic growth. We, therefore, believe in a secure, peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan, with its strong commitment to Human Rights. This is not only in its own interest, but also vital to peace, stability and prosperity of the ‘Heart of Asia’ region as a whole, for which it is our collective responsibility to help and support Afghanistan in combating the challenges it faces.
- We support the Government of Afghanistan’s constructive approach towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.
- We consider the conclusion of International Security Assistance Forces’ (ISAF) Mission in Afghanistan, an important step towards Afghan self-reliance and note the initiation of the non-combat post ISAF Mission focusing on training, advising and assistance to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), and hope it would, therefore, contribute to the early realization of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
- We commend the hospitality of Pakistan and Iran in hosting millions of Afghan refugees, for the last three decades, despite their own formidable challenges and limitations and we urge the international community to provide them with adequate support. We welcome the initiatives Afghanistan-Pakistan-UNHCR and Afghanistan Iran-UNHCR Tripartite Commissions on Voluntary Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Pakistan and Iran respectively. We urge the international community to provide 3 adequate and sustained support and assistance including within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan refugees to enable their voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation and sustainable reintegration and resettlement in Afghanistan. We look upon the Afghan Government to take necessary measures to facilitate this process in close cooperation with host countries.
- We recognize that the beginning of the Transformation Decade, aimed at self-reliance of Afghanistan, marks an important milestone in its history. While reaffirming commitment to Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty, we reiterate our support for Afghanistan as it ushers in the new era of regional connectivity as enunciated by H.E. President Ghani.
- We urge the international community to stand by its commitment made during the London Conference, of continued financial support to Afghanistan’s National Unity Government, through 2017. In this regard, we note with appreciation the agreement by the European Union to host the next Afghanistan Development Ministerial Conference in Brussels in 2016.
- We renew our support for Afghanistan which is beginning to emerge as a stable democracy, is continuing to develop a resilient security force, and is visualizing a reformative economic agenda as goals for the Transformation Decade.
Countering Security Threats
- We recognize that terrorism and violent extremism are constant and serious threats to regional and international peace, security, stability and economic growth, and that Afghanistan is one of the countries at the forefront of the war against terrorism, fighting regional and international terrorist groups and safeguarding the region against the spread of terrorism.
- We reiterate our agreement that terrorism, extremism and separatism, and linkages among them, pose a serious challenge to many of our countries, as well as the region and beyond, which can only be addressed through our concerted efforts.
- We believe that achieving peace and security, as well as regional integration, is a shared responsibility, in which each HOA-IP country must play its role for its own benefit, as well as for the collective benefit of the region.
- We welcome Afghanistan’s determination and efforts in steering the HOA-IP towards creating a peaceful and secure region. Since the security of the countries of the Heart of Asia region are intertwined, we believe that supporting Afghanistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism is vital for safeguarding the region against terrorism.
- We resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. While recognizing the importance of international cooperation and coordination, any measure taken by States to prevent and combat terrorism must comply fully with our obligations under international law and the United Nations Charter. We commit to put into practice specific measures and steps necessary for countering and eliminating the menace of terrorism, all terrorist organizations, in particular Al Qaida, Daesh (ISIL) and their affiliates, and any support to them and their enabling networks in the HoA-IP region.
- We recognize that extremism facilitates, encourages and justifies acts of terrorism and violence. We undertake to introduce measures to curb the spread of violent extremism and the promotion and encouragement of violence as a means of achieving political objectives.
- We also agree on the need, and commit to put in place, specific measures and take necessary actions to deny terrorists’ access to financial and material resources, to dismantle their sanctuaries and training facilities, and to curtail their ability to recruit and train new terrorists. Measures to curb terrorists’ movements should also be established without prejudice to trade and legal movement of citizens and goods.
- We give credence to the idea of resolving conflicts through peaceful negotiations and urge full support by HOA-IP countries to the Government of Afghanistan in implementing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation initiatives, and realizing its peace objectives. We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed opposition groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghan Government.
- We believe that terrorism, transnational criminal narcotics and weapon networks, are serious regional challenges. Tackling of these, offers opportunities for regional cooperation. 5 We recognize that a considerable share of the terrorism financing sources consists of the revenues obtained from drugs production and its trafficking. Therefore, we resolve to begin the process of identifying and countering each of these threats at national, regional and international levels.
- We understand that the acuteness and global scale of the illicit drug threat requires appropriate international efforts aimed at intensifying measures to fight illicit production of drugs and their precursors and their trafficking, especially in the Heart of Asia region. In this regard, we resolve to intensify existing counter narcotics activities in the region.
- We realize that the emerging security challenges are not confined to a particular country and have the potential of expanding to the entire region, if timely measures are not taken. We, therefore, stress the need for adopting a coordinated and collaborative security and counter-terrorism approach for the HOA-IP region. In this regard, we need to explore evolving a coordinated and collaborated security approach and adopting a common counter-terrorism strategy and programme. Therefore, in accordance with our instructions to our Senior Officials in Beijing (articles 20 and 21), we task the Heart of Asia relevant Senior Officials to hold a meeting, in the first half of 2016, on security issues and counter terrorism measures.
- We realize the need for generating financial resources, developing logistical support and establishing improved information sharing mechanisms among relevant government institutions responsible for combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and managing border security, as part of the comprehensive regional strategy for combating terrorism and encouraging the participants of the Counter Terrorism-Confidence Building Measure to focus on these areas.
Promoting Economic Connectivity
- We are cognizant that the region has vast natural resources, immense human potential, and abundant opportunities for creation of capital that, in a well-connected region, could be utilized productively to achieve the goal of sustainable economic growth.
- We welcome the number of infrastructure and energy projects aimed at strengthening regional economies through enhanced connectivity, trade, movement of goods and people.
- We believe that it is imperative that regional economic connectivity initiatives improve the lives and welfare of people through improvement in quality of lives, employment generation, ease of access to basic amenities and equality of opportunities for all layers of society. Afghan youth and women are untapped potential resources, which would greatly contribute to the economic and cultural development of the entire region.
- We note the goals and priority projects of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan-VI (RECCA-VI), as indicated in its Chairman’s Statement, and look to the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, through its two economic CBMs, to support their implementation, where possible.
- We appreciate the cooperation among regional countries on projects that have the potential of transforming Afghanistan as transit hub in the Heart of Asia region. We particularly welcome the development of North-South and East-West energy, transport and trade corridors, as well as transit hubs/routes in the region and encourage linkages to be made to these in a manner that these provide maximum regional coverage and benefit.
- We understand that easing of customs procedures and policies, and development and broadening of transit trade framework agreements, is imperative for removing bottlenecks and impediments to facilitate smooth movement of goods and increase the economic viability of inter and intra-regional trade. In this regard, a trade friendly environment needs to be created in the region that ensures compatibility of customs regulations, facilitation of cross-border clearances and reduction in time of legal formalities.
- We are convinced of the need to align and bring greater coherence to existing initiatives that aim to strengthen regional connectivity. We look to the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process to play a constructive role in achieving this goal.
Confidence Building Measures
- We consider Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to be important tools to link the Heart of Asia countries at various levels. We appreciate all lead countries’ efforts in 7 organizing RTG meetings, for all six CBMs this year, and recall our commitment under article 25 of the Beijing Declaration which states: “We acknowledge the important role played by the Regional Technical Groups (RTGs) in prioritizing and following the CBM activities. In this context, we ask the lead countries of each CBM to at least convene two of these meetings each year, one within 2 months of each Ministerial Conference and the second no later than 4 months prior to the following Ministerial Conference.” In this context, we expect all the RTGs to hold their meetings as per this Article’s provision.
- We understand that the Regional Technical Group (RTG) meetings are the vehicles to drive the CBMs forward and delineate the future course of action for CBMs. To this end, we task CBM participants to send technical specialists and decision makers to each RTG meeting. We also task the co-lead countries to announce the dates for the second RTG meeting for the year at the first RTG meeting, expected to take place within two months from today. The first RTG meeting should identify priority projects for the year, identifying prospective implementers and resource providers, such as supporting countries and organizations, and include these in a calendar for the year. Such annual calendars may include inputs from the relevant line ministries and institutions responsible for hosting events related to the CBMs.
- We agree to intensify our efforts in ensuring that the targets set during the Ministerial Conferences are achieved prior to the next one. We express our commitment to generate positive, tangible and effective results, through the endeavors being made under various CBMs. We suggest that under each CBM a continuous series of activities is carried out in specific area, aimed at achieving tangible results, and limiting adhoc activities to those considered of particular stand-alone value.
- We realize that some CBM activities need financing and allocation of sufficient time as they may yield results over a longer period of time. While expectations on these projects should be realistic, update reports should regularly be provided at each Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM).
- We appreciate those supporting countries and organizations that contribute to the implementation of the CBMs’ activities and urge them to enhance participation and contribution in implementation of all CBMs, in close cooperation and coordination of their efforts with the CBM Member States.
- We task our Senior Officials to hold the first SOM meeting of this process, within three months of this Conference, and engage in political dialogue in accordance with our commitments in Beijing, and also to review the plans submitted by the RTGs.
- We express our appreciation and gratefulness to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for hosting the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad.
- We welcome the willingness of India to host the next Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as Co-chair in 2016, and decide to hold the Sixth Ministerial Conference in the last quarter of 2016.
- This Declaration was adopted in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 09December 2015, by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations.
- This Declaration was welcomed and supported by the Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives of the supporting countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and the high-ranking representatives of the supporting international and regional organizations: Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Royal Kingdom of Denmark, Arab Republic of Egypt, European Union, Republic of Finland, Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Italy, Japan, Republic of Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Collective Security Treaty Organizations (CSTO), Economic Cooperation Organizations (ECO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Foreign Ministers of Iran, Turkey, China, India and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A sideline meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States was held that concluded with following decisions and observations:
Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States were fully committed to enabling an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned political reconciliation process that promoted a dialogue between Afghan government and groups of Taliban on the future of Afghanistan and the cessation of violence.
Peace and reconciliation remained the surest way to end violence and ensure stability in Afghanistan and the region, said a statement issued following a trilateral meeting held here on Wednesday at Prime Minister House on the sidelines of Heart of Asia conference.
According to Foreign Office, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States in the meeting expressed their commitment to accelerate diplomatic and political efforts to put an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.
In this trilateral meeting, Pakistan’s side was led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Director General Afghan Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mansoor Ahmad Khan were also present.
From Afghan side President Ashraf Ghani led his delegation while their Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar and Minister of Finance Akleel Ahmad were also present on the occasion.
The US side was led by US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blenkin while US Ambassador David Hale, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Olson and Ms Laurel Miller were present in the meeting.
The aim of the peace process will be to negotiate in good faith to resolve outstanding issues, build on areas of agreement and develop a lasting solution that meets the needs of all Afghans, said the statement.
The three countries agreed to work to create conditions that encourage participation of Taliban groups in a peace process that demonstrates to them that they have a real option of political engagement.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States committed to peruse the start of peace talks immediately.
All efforts for dialogue between the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban groups will be explored and encouraged. The three countries also vowed that they would pursue with urgency confidence building measures that reduced the level of violence in Afghanistan, and allowed for full participation and talks by all participants.
Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to prevent their territory to be used by any violent extremist group or third party and acknowledged that those who refused to join a political resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan must be opposed with all means available.
The United States committed to supporting these efforts.
The three countries agreed that safeguarding Afghanistan’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and Islamic character as a democratic republic were fundamental to resolving the current conflict.
They agreed that the legitimacy of the Afghan state and the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s constitution must be fully respected.
The rights of all Afghans, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religious identity, must be protected in any peace process.
Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to broaden their state-to-state, political, economic and security cooperation and people-to-people interactions.
They also agreed that friendly, mutually respectful relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan were necessary to create an enabling environment for peace process and talks and to ensure the security, stability, prosperity, and national interests of both states.
Iranian FM meets PM Nawaz
The Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif has said that the Islamic Republic is determined to work with Afghanistan and Pakistan to eliminate extremism and terrorism from the region.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Zarif said that Iran and Pakistan have historical bonds which will become stronger in the future.
The Iranian foreign minister lauded Pakistan for hosting Heart of Asia Conference to ensure peace and stability in the region.
“We hope that all obstacles in the way of economic cooperation between the two countries (Pakistan and Iran) will be removed after lifting of sanctions,” he said, referring to a historic nuclear deal clinched earlier this year between Iran and major world powers which paved the way for removal of sanctions, had earlier been imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Zarif said that the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will soon visit Pakistan.
Turkish FM meets Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said Turkey is a trusted friend of Pakistan and the relationship between the two brotherly countries would continue to grow stronger.
The Prime Minister expressed these views in a meeting with Foreign Minister of Turkey Melvet Cavusoglu here at the PM House.
The Turkish foreign minister said Pakistan is a second home to Turkish people. He said Turkey supports Pakistan’s efforts in promoting peace and reconciliation in the region.
He thanked Pakistan for its hospitality at the Heart of Asia Conference.
Chinese FM meets Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Wednesday appreciated the support extended to Pakistan by the Chinese leadership.
Talking to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who called on him, the Prime Minister said that the Chinese leadership played a key role in laying the foundations of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Pakistani nation is grateful to Chinese leadership for taking the relationship on the highest level. We thank Chinese leadership for supporting Pakistan in our energy and infrastructure sector,” he added.
The Chinese Foreign Minister said that China and Pakistan shared the same destiny.
The CPEC was the largest comprehensive project with any foreign country, he said, adding Pakistan and China were partners in this comprehensive cooperation.
He said implementation of CPEC projects was in full swing and it would bring a great change in the region.
The Chinese foreign minister said that Pakistan had played an important role in the Heart of Asia conference.
“We appreciate the leadership of Prime Minister of Pakistan in leading the war against extremism and terrorism,” he added.
US Deputy Secretary of State meets Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, terming fight against terrorism an irreversible process, said Pakistan was a strong advocate of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Talking to US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who led a delegation at the PM House, he said the government’s resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism was getting stronger.
The Prime Minister said his government took the decision to start operation Zarb-e-Azb in tribal areas to eliminate terrorism and mentioned loss of precious innocent lives and sacrifices of army and law-enforcement officials in this fight.
Antony Blinken said the United States appreciated the commitment of Pakistani leadership towards promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
He lauded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s strong statement of endorsing the legitimacy and sovereignty of Afghan government and Afghanistan.
He said the US recognized Pakistan’s efforts in its fight against extremism and terrorism and would help Pakistan and Afghanistan in promoting good economic relationship in future.
Afghan president met Chief of Pakistan Army General Raheel Sharif at GHQ.
According to a statement issued by Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan Army, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif held discussion with focus on regional security with particular reference to the security situation and peace process in Afghanistan.
While acknowledging the need to undertake confidence-building measures in order to engender trust, both dignitaries agreed to further enhance mutual relations by enhancing the ongoing Pak-Afghan security cooperation.
The Afghan president while emphasizing on the need of enhancing bilateral relations between both countries, vowed to work together to eliminate common threat of terrorism.
The president acknowledged the successes achieved by Pakistan in war against terror.
In his remarks, the COAS assured continued full support to the Afghan president for intelligence sharing, operational coordination and reconciliation process for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“We are committed to work together with Afghanistan on the basis of mutual interest and respect,” he said according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
“We should pursue a strategic relationship that is enduring and enhances the security and concomitant prosperity of both brotherly countries,” COAS emphasized.
Chinese FM meeting with General Raheel Sharif
The Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif at General Headquarters and appreciated progress of an effective, across the board Operation Zarb-e-Azb by Pakistan Army which helped eliminate ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) just as it eliminated elements of all other terrorist groups based in the area.
According to ISPR, focus of discussion was on regional security, enhanced bilateral defence and security cooperation between both countries during the meeting.
While underlining the importance of CPEC, Wang Yi said that CPEC would have highly significant and long-term impacts on the region and was equally beneficial for people of Pakistan and China.
The COAS reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to ensure secure environment for timely completion and subsequent management of CPEC in the best interest of prosperous region.
Deputy Secretary of State meeting with General Raheel Sharif
Deputy Secretary of State of the United States Antony J. Blinken called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif here at General Headquarters on Thursday.
During the meeting, both the dignitaries discussed matters related to security challenges and reiterated the need of early resumption of reconciliation process to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan which is so critical for stability in the region.
The US Deputy Secretary acknowledged sacrifices and appreciated efforts by Pakistani security forces for peace and stability in the region.
US Ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale and United Stated Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Richard G. Olson were also present during the meeting.
US Deputy Secretary of State meeting with Sartaj Aziz
The US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference.
He was accompanied by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson and the US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale.
During the meeting, discussions were held on Pak-US relations following the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the US as well as regional situation including Afghanistan and India.
The Adviser expressed satisfaction at the successful visit of the Prime Minister to the US and underlined the need for a long term multidimensional partnership between Pakistan and the US for regional peace and stability.
The Adviser also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to the policy of non-interference and peaceful neighbourhood in the region.
He reiterated Pakistan’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
He underscored the significance of the recent interaction between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India in Paris and briefed him on the efforts being made to establish good neighbourly relations between the two countries.
Antony Blinken highlighted the importance of Pak-US relations for the region.
He appreciated Pakistan’s strong commitment and firm actions taken to counter terrorism. He also recognized Pakistan’s sincere efforts towards facilitating the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The US Deputy Secretary of State, who came straight from India, expressed hope that Pakistan and India would soon resume the dialogue for peaceful resolution of their outstanding issues.
NATO representative Ambassador Ismail Aramaz meeting with Sartaj Aziz
The Senior Civil Representative of NATO, Ambassador Ismail Aramaz called on Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here at Foreign Office on Wednesday.
Ambassador Aramaz is in Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Conference.
The Advisor stated that Pakistan values its relations with NATO and the engagement had been mutually productive. He hoped that the engagement would be further strengthened in future.
The Advisor underlined the resolve of Pakistan to root out terrorism and extremism from the country and highlighted the success of the Pakistan military’s operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Ambassador Aramaz congratulated Pakistan on holding the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference and expressed the hope that it would yield positive outcomes. He appreciated Pakistan’s constructive approach to Afghanistan.
The Advisor conveyed that Pakistan earnestly desires to establish a friendly and cooperative relationship with Afghanistan. He emphasized that Pakistan is committed to the peace process which is imperative for stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Turkish FM meeting President Mamnoon
President Mamnoon Hussain said that Pakistan, being committed to peace and stability in the region, desired complete peace in Afghanistan and was ready to cooperate with the Afghan government for this purpose.
He further stated that Pakistan also wanted peaceful relations with India.
The President was talking to Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, who called on him here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The President hoped that Turkish Foreign Minister had fruitful discussions at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference.
He said that Pakistan would continue to work with Turkey for transforming strong political relations into a robust economic partnership between the two brotherly countries.
The President stated that relations between Pakistan and Turkey at both the governmental and people level, were ideal and an example for the world.
He noted that High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) was providing strategic focus and direction to further expand bilateral relations and stressed for implementation of the HLSCC’s decisions.
The President hoped that early conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would significantly enhance bilateral trade and investment commensurate with vast potential of the two countries.
He called for further strengthening communication links adding that early operationalization of the ECO Container Train was of crucial importance in this regard.
The President said that Pakistan has recently acceded to TIR Convention, which would facilitate trade with Turkey and other regional countries.
He hoped that Turkey would facilitate and make it easier for Pakistani travelers to obtain Turkish visa for visit to Turkey.
The President stated that the government and people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with Turkey, as it has suffered grievously from terrorist attacks in the past several months.
Expressing condolences over the loss of precious lives in the suicide bombing at Ankara on October 10 and attacks targeting security personnel, the President hoped that the Turkish people will decisively defeat the menace of terrorism with their characteristic resolve as a brave nation.
He expressed gratitude over Turkey’s unwavering support to Pakistan at various international fora on important issues particularly the Kashmir issue.
Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Pakistan was his second home and he was very happy to be here. He appreciated Pakistan’s role for regional peace and stability.
He further stated that Turkey would continue to support Pakistan on all issues and there was a complete understanding and unanimity of views between the leadership of the two brotherly countries.
This article is written by Matiullah Khan from Islamabad