Heart Of Asia Summit Concludes With Adoption Of Istanbul Declaration

The fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process ministerial conference in Islamabad ended Wednesday with member states renewing their commitment to promoting peace and security within the region.

In the Islamabad Declaration, adopted by delegates following the one-day summit, they said: “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.”

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011, and has continued to make good progress towards realization of its core objective of promoting durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

There are 14 member countries involved in the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process. These are supported by 17 other countries and 12 regional and international organizations.

Foreign ministers and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, as well as high-level representatives of supporting regional and international organizations from over 30 countries participated in this important conference which was co-chaired by Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the opening ceremony of the ministerial conference.

Through the declaration, delegates 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.

The participants of the conference also acknowledged the importance of the conference as an critical regional initiative and platform aimed at a stable, peaceful, prosperous and developed Afghanistan. They also recognized 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 pledged to support the Afghan government’s constructive approach towards regional engagement and its commitment to building an environment of trust and confidence throughout the region.

According to Pakistan media reports, delegates also 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 Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), and hoped it would, therefore, contribute to the early realization of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

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.

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