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Heart of Asia Istanbul Process

Heart of Asia Conference and Prospects of Peace in Afghanistan

While the United States is facing a dilemma over the current situation in Afghanistan, the ninth Heart of Asia Summit – Istanbul Process (HOA-IP) has begun in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and will last for two days. This time, the theme of the conference is “Strengthening the Consensus for Peace and Development” with the objective to achieve a secure and stable Afghanistan that can enhance regional security, and economic and political cooperation with other countries.
Launched in 2011, the HOA-IP is the largest regional initiative to date, bringing together 15 regional countries: Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkey; 17 supporting countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Finland, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America; and 12 sponsors: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), Conference of Interactions and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA).
As mentioned above, countries in the region include Pakistan, which is the key to peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s contribution was also imperative in finalizing the US-Taliban deal last year. Moreover, it has been playing a positive role in bringing different stakeholders on negotiation table for a permanent tranquility in Afghanistan, and ultimately, in the region. As per the statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi will speak on Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace process and Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s development.
Iran, another member of the conference, has also a key role to play in Afghan peace process. Unfortunately, the cold war between Iran and the US in Afghanistan has overshadowed Iran’s role, but it can always be of significant importance for future of peace in the country.
China and Russia, as the key players in the region, and now in the world, can also lead the regional countries in ensuring peace and stability. However, it is vital that the geopolitical struggle between China, Russia and the US should not lead to instability in Afghanistan and the region.
Afghanistan, being at the center of conference, also needs to take advantage of all the support and assistance it can get from the regional and international countries, and must strive to make decisions that benefit its people who have been suffering from insecurity and lack of basic facilities of life for decades now. President Ashraf Ghani has also arrived in Tajikistan to address the Conference of Foreign Ministers of HOA-IP. And, it is expected that security and stability in Afghanistan will be discussed by him in the meeting. During the meeting, the President may strive to convince the countries of the region that they are committed to ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan. He expects that if these issues are discussed at the Heart of Asia Summit, it will have an impact on the situation in Afghanistan.
However, it must not be forgotten that over the past twenty years, similar to this conference, many meetings have been held on Afghanistan; but none of them has worked well because government officials do not have a plan that is appealing to the world, and they have mostly pursued their own interests and preserved their own rule. The countries participating in the conference may extend their support for security and stability in Afghanistan; but the government’s position on war and peace in the country is incomprehensible and selfish.
The meeting comes as concerns about escalating violence and insecurity in the country have risen. It is hard to believe that the conference will have lasting impacts on the current situation in Afghanistan. Because experience has shown that debates over peace in Afghanistan alone cannot diminish the scale of violence in the country. Establishing an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan should be one of the key objectives of the meeting, as insecurity is resulting in the death of innocent civilians. However, for that a practical approach should be adopted, and such an approach demands that an interim government should be formed that can pave the way for proper evolution of Afghanistan’s political system that can involve all the stakeholders for a lasting ceasefire and peace in the country.
(Sahar News)

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