'Heart of Asia' ─ countering security threats, promoting connectivity

Published December 9, 2015
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif walks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the military Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif walks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the military Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  greets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the military Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif greets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the military Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend the first day of the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. — AFP
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend the first day of the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. — AFP
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a speech on the First day of the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. — AFP
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a speech on the First day of the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The fourth 'Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process' conference is being held in the federal capital, Islamabad, and will be attended by high-ranking delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations.

Delegates from 10 countries confirmed participation in the conference, while others were represented by their respective senior government officials.

More than a century ago, the Poet of the East and Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, described Afghanistan as the Heart of Asia and a pivot for peace, stability and prosperity for the entire region.

Asia is a body of water and flowers. Afghanistan is its heart. If there is instability in Afghanistan, Asia is unstable. If there is peace in Afghanistan, Asia is peaceful.

Read: ‘Understanding Iqbal can bring peace in region’

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif greets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif greets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival at the Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi. — AFP

The first 'Heart of Asia' conference was held in Kabul in 2012, the second in Almaty in 2013 and the third was held in Beijing in 2014.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were part of the initiative which was launched in 2011 to encourage economic and security cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

The six key areas in which the 14 countries have been pursuing confidence-building measures since the 2013 Almaty meeting are disaster management, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, trade and investment, regional infrastructure and education.

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