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Heart of Asia declaration names LeT, Jaish as threat to peace in South Asian regionAfghanistan President Ashraf Ghani holds talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Tribune photo: Vishal Kumar

Heart of Asia declaration names LeT, Jaish as threat to peace in South Asian region

04 Dec 2016 | 7:44 PM

AMRITSAR: In a diplomatic victory for India on Sunday, the Amritsar Declaration issued at the end of Heart of Asia conference named Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), as grave threats to peace in the South Asian region.

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Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 4

The Heart of Asia (HOA) Conference on Sunday saw India and Afghanistan come together on the issue of terrorism. In a diplomatic victory for India, the Amritsar Declaration issued at the end of the conference named Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), as grave threats to peace in the South Asian region.

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India had tried and failed to get these groups mentioned in the Goa Declaration issued at the end of the BRICS Summit in Goa.

Significantly, the much anticipated India-Pak pull aside on the sidelines of the conference did not happen but on the contrary, Afghanistan had some harsh and blunt words in store for Pakistan’s support of terrorism.

The day started on a bad note for Pakistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lashing out at Pakistan even while Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s de-facto foreign minister was in attendance. Ghani snubbed a $500 million pledge from Pakistan for development projects in Afghanistan, saying Afghanistan 'needs aid to fight terrorism'.

“We need to identify cross-border terrorism and a fund to combat terrorism. Pakistan has pledged $500m for Afghanistan's development. This amount can be spent to contain extremism," Ghani said as Aziz listened in.

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"Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year. This is unacceptable... Some still provide sanctuary for terrorists. As a Taliban figure said recently, if they had no sanctuary in Pakistan, they wouldn't last a month," Ghani said.

In contrast, when it came to talking about India’s support to Afghanistan, Ghani expressed his appreciation and said the relationship is based on ‘shared values and beliefs’.

India stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan on the issue of terrorism and though Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not name Pakistan, his emphasis was very much in that direction. 

“Terrorism and externally-induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity,” Modi said.

The PM went on to add that ‘silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters’.

While the snub from Afghanistan was out in the open for Pakistan, from India there was no great warmth or reciprocity for Pakistan’s desire for resumption in dialogue.

Officially, India maintained that there was no pull aside or bilateral between Aziz and National Security Adviser (NSA) on the sidelines of the conference. Sources, however, confirm that Aziz and Doval did shake hands and had a brief conversation during the HOA dinner Saturday. 

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