Inaugurating Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Islamabad this morning along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, PM Sharif said that in order to promote peace in the region, it was necessary that peace be first established in Afghanistan.
“If Asia is like a body, Afghanistan is like the heart of Asia,” said Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistani premier also especially thanked Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani for taking part in the conference. Nawaz also said on the occasion that Allama Iqbal had also envisioned this region to be peaceful and progressive.
Nawaz also said that Afghanistan was more than a neighbour for Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan shared a historic relationship owing to their culture, traditions and customs. He further said that Afghanistan was a sovereign country and that Afghanistan’s enemies were also the enemies of Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif reiterated the demand that Pakistan wanted Afghan refugees to return to Afghanistan in a proper and respectable way. Speaking on the issue of terrorism, Nawaz said that terrorism was a common enemy and that coordinated efforts were required to defeat it.
Consensus-based operations such as Zarb-e-Azb and the National Action Plan have been remarkably successful,” said he said.
In his remarks on the occasion, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appreciated Pakistan for launching operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists. He said his country desires strong people-to-people contacts with Pakistan for further strengthening of relations and mutual trust. He thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees on its territory over the last many decades.
Ashraf Ghani pointed out that TAPI is a very important regional energy project which will soon be inaugurated in Turkmenistan. CASA 100 project will also bring the people of the region closer together.
Mr. Ghani said terrorism is a common problem of Pakistan and Afghanistan as both the countries have suffered immensely in the war against this menace.
Addressing the conference, Indian Minister External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said her country is ready to extend cooperation for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.
The Indian External Affairs Minister said the regional connectivity and promotion of trade was essential for peace and security.
Sushma Swaraj said elimination of terrorism from Afghanistan was a collective responsibility.