Local Goa News

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

India, Afghanistan send stern message to Pakistan; decide to hold next Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar

Committing themselves to removing obstacles in the way of connecting the region and to battling out terrorism, India and Afghanistan here on Wednesday sent a stern message to Pakistan, by deciding to hold the next Heart of Asia (HoA) conference in Amritsar. India also announced the extending of $1 billion as additional development assistance to the war-torn country, with a focus on both capacity-building in the social sector as well as clean energy projects in hydel-power.

Visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met here for the eighth time over past two years chose the border city of Amritsar, as the venue for the HoA conference scheduled in December involving 14 countries to explore peace and stability in Afghanistan. “The move underscores the value of restoring connectivity to address challenges and achieve prosperity,” said the joint statement issued at the end of talks.

Both countries also raised concerns over Pakistan’s continued blockage of transit rights for goods to travel between India and Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who briefed reporters about the talks said that the two leaders expressed their disappointment over the fact that 1.7 lakh tonnes of wheat that India had offered Afghanistan in December 2015 remain undelivered. “The method of supply and the obstructions to it are blocking our shipment, despite food shortages in Afghanistan,” he said. Jaishankar denied that the use of the land route for trade between Afghanistan and India has become a thorny issue between Islamabad and Kabul.Under the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit trade Agreement, trade and goods are only allowed from Afghanistan upto the Wagah border with India, but not from India to Afghanistan. Several other agreements like the Motor Vehicles Agreement are pending due to a lack of support from Pakistan towards Kabul’s plans for business with India

India and Afghanistan also signed an extradition treaty to facilitate the exchange of wanted terrorists and criminals as well an agreement on mutual legal assistance, which had been delayed since April 2015, when President Ghani last visited. Apart from the landmark treaty on extradition, the two sides also sealed agreements on peaceful uses of outer space and on cooperation on civil and commercial matters. The meeting between the two heads also sought faster implementation of the trilateral agreement among Afghanistan, Iran and India sealed in May 2016 which is aimed at creating a network of regional connectivity around Iran’s Chabahar port.

Without mentioning Pakistan, both leaders called upon “the concerned” countries to “put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists including for those who target Afghanistan and India”. In the joint statement, while there was no specific reference to military assistance that Afghanistan has requested from India, it mentioned strengthening security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement. During a visit to Delhi a few weeks ago, Afghan army chief General Qadam Shah Shahim had put in requests for more helicopters, tanks, artillery and ammunition, as well as training for more Afghan forces.

Later, while addressing India’s strategic community at the country’s premier think-tank Institue of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), President Ghani called for a fundamental change in the regional and global response through improved information sharing, increased state level cooperation, greater public understanding of democratic processes and involvement of civil societies in tackling the challenge of terrorism. He said the current wave of terrorism was one the “most well-financed movements in history”, due to the willingness of some states to sponsor non-state actors. Insisting that minority groups should not be allowed to hijack civilisations, the President pointed out that terrorists target public spaces to disrupt the compact between the citizens and the state.

DNA India News

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