India’s former Ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyay has said that one of the key takeaways for New Delhi from the Heart of Asia Conference would be unbridled market access to Central Asian and Afghanistan markets, and added that the conference will give a boost to regional cooperation between participating nations.
“A major takeaway would be firstly a continued focus on Afghanistan, terrorism and regional cooperation. And, the country that most stands to benefit if this artery leading to the heart of Asia is unblocked, is India, because, it would have access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, and these would also benefit from Indian markets, and sharing of technology,” Mukhopadhyay told ANI.
The former envoy also pointed out that the conference that is being held in Amritsar would also heavily focus on cross border terrorism which has been plaguing Afghanistan and India. “The Heart of Asia process or the Istanbul declaration has two phrases in its heading. One is regional security and the second is regional cooperation.” he said. “Within regional security, the key issue that faces the region and Afghanistan is terrorism, and within terrorism, it is cross border terrorism.
This terrorism depends on a whole eco system which begins with fundamentalism, violent fundamentalism and extremism, not only in Afghanistan, but in the entire region,” he added. The sixth ‘Heart of Asia’ conference will see the participation of representatives from over 30 countries, including China, United States, Russia, Iran and Pakistan to discuss peace, cooperation and economic development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the permanent chair of the HoA, while India, which is its co-chair, will host this year’s conference.
The main ministerial conference will be inaugurated today jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.