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‘Heart of Asia’ conference: Ghani thunders, Swaraj diplomatic

Sushma Swaraj

The Pakistani authorities welcomed the dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, China among other Asian countries in the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference at Islamabad on Wednesday.

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was greeted by a full reception which included the prime minister, the army, air and navy chiefs as well as the defence minister.

The Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also arrived in the capital on Tuesday night in order to participate in the discussion.

The theme of the conference, is jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan, is to ‘enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region’

Ashraf Ghani President of Afghanistan expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for “hosting millions of Afghan refugees over decades”, but instantly changed his topic to the refugee problem and about the ‘unintended consequences’ of Pakistan’s military operations.

Ghani said. “Unfortunately, recent events in Pakistan have forced us to host close to 350,000 to 500,000 Pakistani refugees on our soil. The refugee issue is a common issue, like other issues that confront us.”

On The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan he questioned “What is the nature of the Taliban and how do we deal with it?”, “What is driving the conflict?”. Talking about the recent terror incidents he said, It is a global and regional problem. It requires us to focus on it systematically and coherently.

He said “how the networks of terror coordinate, co-finance, what is their linkage with the criminal economy, how is radicalism shaping and maligning our holy religion and our opportunities for global engagement and dialogue”. He said If Al Qaeda is version one, Daesh is version six ─ and the worst feature of it is its pathology.” He said Poverty elimination is our most significant goal and I’m convinced that regional cooperation could allow us to have the types of growth that could allow us to tackle the most fundamental weakness ─ the poverty and exclusion of women, youth and the poor.”

The Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj “extended India’s hand towards Pakistan” she said .”It is time we [Pakistan and India] display maturity and self confidence to do business with each other the entire world is watching and we must not disappoint them.”

“The heart of Asia cannot function if arteries are clogged.”

“If Afghan trucks could carry Indian products to markets in Afghanistan and central Asia, that would be the best way to make trucking from Afghanistan cost effective and viable and bestow benefits to the whole region. India is willing to receive Afghan trucks on its territory at Attari and create necessary facilities for Afghan products there.” She assures
‘India will extend its cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.’

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