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REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT THE FIFTH MINISTERIAL MEETING OF HEART OF ASIA- ISTANBUL PROCESS

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیمِ

Excellencies Foreign Ministers,

Distinguished Heads of Delegations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to warmly welcome you all to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for co-chairing the process throughout the year and hosting today’s conference under such excellent arrangements.

We have emphasized time and again that Afghanistan and Pakistan are vital to each other’s peace, stability and prosperity.

101215-1The deep-rooted ties of history, geography, faith, culture, traditions, and so much more between our two countries will ultimately help us achieve our objectives.

I would also like to thank the past co-chairs and hosts of the process, the Republic of Turkey, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Peoples Republic of China. Their contributions in supporting and promoting the process during their co-chair ship and after, have been of great significance for taking the process forward.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The success and achievements of the process over the past four years is no small gain. Despite themany competing priorities and formidable challenges that each of our countries face within our region, our shared, collective commitment has resulted in substantial progress.

Your participation and expressions of support for hosting and co-chairing the Heart of Asia Process in the months and years to come is heartening for us.

It is also a strong demonstration of our collective determination to exploring and ultimately realizing regional solutions to regional problems.

I sincerely thank all countries that have expressed their interest in hosting the next ministerial conference and we are confident that we will hold these conferences in various capitals with important milestones to meet in the coming years.

Excellencies,

The fundamental goal of the Heart of Asia is the realization of our interdependence and the sheer fact that no single country can remain stable and prosperous in a hostile and non-cooperative regional environment.

In this context, Afghanistan can be the heart of regional peace as opposed to being at the heart of regional and international conflicts.

Our potential as the shortest and most viable route for regional trade and transit, our natural and human resources, and most importantly our strong desire for peace and security, makes us the indispensible and essential connector for bringing the region closer together.

However, the full realization of our potentials depends on sincere collaboration from our regional partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Violent extremism and terrorism are amongst our biggest challenges in this region. We believe that any use of terror and violence to achieve political objectives is against humanity and peaceful co-existence.

In order to cope with them enace of terrorism and violent extremism, we need to embark on collective strategies for uprooting these threats.

The recent regional seminar under the Counter Terrorism Confidence Building Measure framework of this process that took place last week in Kabul, reiterated the significance of a holistic approach toward countering violent extremism and terrorism.

We need a strategy that collectively targets terrorism financing, incubation, and the instruments that they use for spreading their influence and fear; A strategy that defines our commitments at the political, security and economic levels for coping with the scourge of terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As reflected in the theme of the fifth Heart of Asia ministerial conference, regional connectivity is central to our national and regional development.

In this context, Afghanistan has the position, potential and capacity as a land bridge for much-needed regional cooperation, and we believe that the Heart of Asia process provides a unique opportunity and a solid platform for promoting our shared and common goal of peaceful and prosperous region.

With this, I would like to invite our esteemed participants to discuss and share with us their views on the way forward in the process.

Thank you once again for your participation and I look forward to a productive engagement throughout the conference.