WEB DESK: The outcome of the Sixth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference hosted by India can be categorised in two pieces: the Amritsar Declaration adopted by the conference and the Modi-Ghani duo criticising Pakistan.
While the former was realistic, reflective of the challenges the lingering curse of terrorism poses to Afghanistan, the latter went overboard in abusing HoC platform for point-scoring against Pakistan. No wonder then PM’s Advisor Sartaj Aziz has described the declaration as ‘balanced’, but questioned sincerity of the Afghan president to the very raison d’etre of the conference – in vicious accompaniment of the host leadership.
But that was quite expected. Knowing full well as to the expected mischief on the part of the Indo-Afghan duo Pakistan decided to participate in the conference in India. Given the fact that over the last six months or so, the Kabul government has not only suffered huge casualties at the hands of insurgents it also lost to them wide chunks of territory, the statement adopted by HoC member-states has called for international co-operation to ensure elimination of terrorism and underscored the imperative of early finalization of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.
It also called for dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. And generously appreciated Pakistan and Iran for hospitality in hosting Afghan refugees for three decades, expressing hope if their repatriation becomes inevitable it should be “voluntary, safe, gradual and dignified.” It welcomed Kabul government’s patch-up with Hizb-e-Islami’s Gulbadin Hekmatyar and “urged Afghan Taliban groups and other armed groups to enter into peace talks with Afghan government,” but expressed concern over increase in cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan.
The conference also welcomed the commencing of work on the TAPI gas pipeline. Perhaps, the HoC could be even more pragmatic, in that it should have pointedly called for resumption of peace parleys in the framework of the Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group. The war, even when joined by the world’s most powerful war machine, is no solution to the Afghan imbroglio. There is, therefore, no doubt about the fact that peace and stability will come only through an intra-Afghan dialogue.
In his tone and tenor against President Ashraf Ghani was simply unforgiving. He accused Pakistan of waging an “undeclared war” against Afghanistan, and ridiculed the $500 million aid committed by Pakistan. And that should have been expected – given his failure to defeat insurgents in the battlefield, as much for their inherent strength and deep roots in Afghan society as for the rampant corruption rife in Afghan government, President Ghani was wilfully tilting at the wrong windmills. But Pakistan looks at Afghanistan independent of his theatrics.
Sartaj Aziz found the Afghan president’s statement at the conference “quite shocking”, but understandable as it was made on “a soil hostile to Pakistan”. “Our relations with Afghanistan stand independently and we have lot of interaction because we are next door neighbours,” according to him. As the Afghan leader showcased his antics Prime Minister Modi kept smiling. After all, he too confronts an identical dilemma.
There is the resurgent uprising in Occupied Kashmir and Modi is in desperate need of a scapegoat that he like his friend from Kabul finds in Pakistan. And what a depth the Indians had to descend to ensure that Sartaj Aziz is kept in a kind of quarantine; he was not allowed to speak to the media or visit the Golden Temple. No surprise then the Russian delegate found it disgusting that the conference was used for point-scoring on issues which are bilateral in nature and beyond the scope of the Heart of Asia moot.
The kind of words Ashraf Ghani uttered against Pakistan and discourtesy shown by Indian leadership to the delegation from Pakistan are not only an insult to the people of Afghanistan but also a snub to all those who had come from far and wide to support their cause. What else if the two were not heartless at the Heart of Asia? – Business Recorder