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Pakistan to attend ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in India

Aziz said, Pakistan will participate in Heart of Asia conference in India, while Abdul Basit ‘cautioned’ the Indian authorities that Pakistan does not require ‘hyper-nationalism’ to pursue its foreign policy objectives.
Sartaz Aziz

While the heat between India-Pakistan continues to surge high,Pakistan’s Adviser to Prime Minister on foreign affairs, Sartaz Aziz has announced Pakistan’s participation in the Heart of Asia conference to be held in Amritsar in December.

According to the report of Dawn, a Pakistan Daily, Aziz said “Our participation [in the conference] will be at the ministerial level.”

According to the reports, the country’s participation in the meeting is aimed at sending a “loud and clear message to the world that unlike India, Pakistan is in favour of reaching out to its neighbours for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan,” senior officials from the Pakistan government told The Express Tribune newspaper. However, it isn’t clear whether Pakistan will send Sartaj Aziz, or whether it will “downgrade” its participation at the conference the report added.

The official further said that “that there was no point of boycotting the conference since it was about Afghanistan,” report added.

In contrast to this, Abdul Basit, High Commissioner for Pakistan in his address at Indian Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, said “How on earth is it possible to isolate a country on terrorism when that country itself is the worst victim of terrorism?”

He spoke in the light of India’s decision to globally isolate Pakistan, following the terror attack in Uri, which killed 19 Indian soldiers.

He ‘cautioned’ the Indian authorities that Pakistan does not require ‘hyper-nationalism’ to pursue its foreign policy objectives. It is only through sustained diplomacy that Pakistan and India can address their issues and forge an effective cooperative model to their mutual benefit, he added.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey. Its main objective is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promoting long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan, and the region.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates are part of the ‘Heart of Asia’.

According to the reports, Senior officials from 17 supporting countries, including the US, will also participate in the meeting to be jointly presided over by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is to be noted that Pakistan hosted the last Ministerial Conference in December 2015 which was also attended by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

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