Afghan declaration names Lashkar, Jaish as threats to regional peace

Amritsar, Dec 4 (IANS) India scored a major diplomatic victory over its rival neighbour after an international conference on Afghanistan here on Sunday named Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, as grave threats to peace in the South Asian region.

The resolution, called Amritsar Declaration, adopted at the 6th ministerial ‘Heart of Asia conference – Istanbul Process on Afghanistan’ in this Punjab city near India’s border with Pakistan, said it was “concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan, in particular, and the region”.

The declaration said that among other terror groups propagating “high level of violence” were “the Taliban, Daesh (Islamic State) and its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida … Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan … and other foreign terrorist fighters”.

“Acknowledging the support that terrorism derives in our region”, the joint declaration demanded “an immediate end to all forms of terrorism, as well as all support to it, including financing of terrorism”.

Citing the declaration, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who chaired the meeting in the absence of ailing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, said the document “strongly” called for “concerted regional and international cooperation to ensure elimination of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, including dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism”.

Jaitly said terrorism was the “core” of deliberations and “at the centrestage” of the Afghan conference that was also attended by Pakistan’s de facto foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz.

The mention of the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation is an Indian diplomatic victory over its western neighbour — accused of using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy since decades.

Indian efforts to include names of the terrorist groups, the Lashkar and Jaish, in the Goa Declaration of the October Brics summit had failed after China allegedly scuttled the move.

New Delhi alleges that the Lashkar and Jaish have been enjoying financial and logistical support from the Pakistan government and its agencies and were being used as tools to disrupt peace in India. Pakistan denies this.

Jaitley said that for India the issue of connectivity for Afghanistan was also important. “The focus area for India is developing infrastructure in Afghanistan. Housing and skill development are also on our agenda.”

The two-day ministerial conference, which concluded on Sunday, was attended by delegations from 14 participating countries, supporting countries and international organisations – 45 in all.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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