PAKISTAN FOR AFGHAN OWNED AFGHAN LED RECONCILIATION PROCESS

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Concluding Remarks of Mr. Sartaj Aziz at Heart of Asia Conference 8-10 Dec 2015 Islamabad

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is indeed an honour for me to express our profound gratitude to all of you for your participation in the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process. 

I deeply appreciate the constructive and meaningful deliberations during the Conference culminating in the adoption of a result-oriented and forward-looking Islamabad Declaration. 

It is a day for us to rejoice. We are successfully concluding our co-chairmanship of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process, along with Afghanistan. This is the culmination of the process in 2015. In this year we have been working collectively for progress, peace and stability in the Heart of Asia region. 

As President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif emphasized in their enlightening addresses this morning, security and development are closely inter-linked. Economic development cannot be achieved without a secure and stable environment. We should, therefore, focus on collective efforts to achieve durable peace in the region with a view to fostering economic cooperation and connectivity in pursuit of a better future for our people. 

For the past few years, terrorism has continued to be a major threat to the regional peace and security. The Heart of Asia countries have consistently reaffirmed firm commitment to fight against terrorism with full resolve and determination. At this Conference too we have reiterated our collective determination for a resolute and coordinated anti-terrorism campaign with the aim of eliminating this scourge. 

Excellencies, 

Pakistan desires long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan is in our interest and the region. Pakistan has, therefore, consistently supported an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. We will continue to facilitate resumption of the reconciliation process, if it were so desired by the Government of Afghanistan. 

We are grateful to the Heart of Asia countries for their unequivocal support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am really delighted that the Islamabad Declaration adopted after in-depth discussions by the senior officials and the Ministers, reaffirms our firm commitment to promote regional peace, security and development in Afghanistan, and the entire Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process region. Our common objective is to achieve socio-economic development of our peoples. 

The Declaration contains commitments by the Heart of Asia countries to expedite implementation of connectivity projects with a view to promoting regional integration and economic development. It also urges the Member States to expand regional activities by expeditious implementation of the CBMs and look into the possibility of expansion of activities under the CBMs. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Now we as the Participating countries of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process region have a solemn responsibility to undertake steps and actions, which are required for the follow up and implementation of the commitments and initiatives that we have agreed to in the Islamabad Declaration. 

We also look forward to the continued invaluable support of the Supporting countries as well as international and regional organizations for taking the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process forward towards realization of our shared objective of promoting regional cooperation, economic development and connectivity. 

I wish to express my profound appreciation to the excellent work done by our senior officials for their diligence and commitment, which resulted in preparation of commendable draft Declaration for our consideration. 

I also wish to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this Conference a great success. 

I declare the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad, Pakistan, closed. 

Thank you and bon voyage.