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Heart of Asia Summit adopts declaration against terror and its backers

05 December 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi The Heart of Asia Summit in Amritsar on Sunday adopted a joint communique declaring terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and called for an immediate end to it.

India pressed for collective efforts to ensure that resurgent forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for "resolute action" not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them, saying silence and inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters.

He was speaking after jointly inaugurating the 6th conference of Heart of Asia, a platform to help Afghanistan in its transition, in Amritsar along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which was attended by Pakistan prime minister's foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz along with representatives of around 30 countries.

India and Afghanistan did not give Pakistan enough manoeuvring space to defend itself over various acts of terror perpetrated in India and Afghanistan by terror organisations based in Pakistan.  

''Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters....'', Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said.

In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged action against those who support and finance terror and endanger peace in the entire South Asian region.

''We must demonstrate strong collective will to defeat terror networks. Support for peace alone is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action,'' Modi said.

''Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters....''

Modi was addressing the inaugural function of the 6th Ministerial Heart of Asia conference - Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Amritsar being attended by leaders from south and central Asia and several western countries.

With Pakistan being represented at the two-day conference by its de facto foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, Modi said mere action against ''forces of terrorism'' was not enough and the world also needed to act against ''those who support, shelter and finance them''.

In his address at the annual ministerial conference, Modi said the growing arc of terrorist violence is posing the gravest threat to the region.

Expressing India's strong commitment to Afghanistan's transition, the prime minister also touched upon the deepening India-Afghanistan ties, reinstating that India was committed to a developed and stable Afghanistan.

"On India's part, our commitment to our brave Afghan brothers and sisters is absolute and unwavering. The welfare of Afghanistan and its people is close to our hearts and minds," Modi said.

Describing Amritsar as a city whose character has been shaped by proud patriotism and generous philanthropy of its residents and by their spirit of enterprise, creativity and hard work, Modi also said the city also happens to nurture an old and steadfast connection of warmth and affection with Afghanistan.

Among the earliest disciples of the first Guru of Sikhs, Baba Guru Nanak Dev, were Afghans he had preached to in Kabul in the 15th century.

Even today, the shrine of an Afghan-origin Sufi saint Baba Hazrat Sheikh in Punjab is revered by all faiths, including visitors from Afghanistan.

''The flow of trade, people and ideas through our region has often intersected in Amritsar on one of Asia's oldest and longest surface arteries, the Grand Trunk Road. Amritsar reinforces the value of restoring connectivity which is so crucial for the overall growth, stability and economic prosperity of Afghanistan,'' Modi pointed out

The prime minister said the gathering under the Heart of Asia initiative re-affirms the commitment of the international community to durable peace and lasting political stability in Afghanistan.

''Our words and actions remain focused at advancing a critical unfinished mission of our time. And, that is to help Afghanistan:

  • Build and strengthen its social, political and institutional fabric;
  • Secure its territory and citizens from external threats;
  • Spur its economic and development activity; and
  • Stitch a stable and prosperous future for its people.

Indeed, this is also the intent of this conference, aptly captured in its theme, "Addressing challenges; Achieving prosperity,'' he said, adding, ''We have no doubt about the scale of the challenge. But, we are equally determined to succeed.''

''The results of our collective efforts thus far have been hard-won, but mixed. There have been important successes. Much more remains to be done.

The need of the hour is to stand our ground and continue with our line of effort. We must protect and build on the gains of the last fifteen years and march ahead.

Because, at stake is not just the future of Afghanistan that has invested in a vision of development, democracy, and pluralism. But, the peace and stability of this entire region, and beyond.

''Let us also reflect with urgency on what more must be done and what we must avoid in Afghanistan so that its citizens can self-sustain peace and economic growth. The answers are all there. The question is of resolve and action. And, of putting Afghanistan and its people first.
''For this, first, an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process is key. It is the only guarantor of durability of solutions. Second, we must demonstrate strong collective will to defeat terror networks that cause bloodshed and spread fear.

''Terrorism and externally induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan's peace, stability and prosperity. And, the growing arc of terrorist violence endangers our entire region. As such, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough,'' Modi said.

(See: Full text of Heart of Asia Summit declaration)

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