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H.E. Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan,

Distinguished representatives of participating countries of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process,

Excellencies,

Ladies & Gentlemen!

It is an occasion of great satisfaction for me to inaugurate the first Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process at Islamabad along with Afghanistan as the co-chair.

I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you. I hope your stay is comfortable and useful.

It is for the first time that the two brotherly countries are jointly leading a regional platform – a platform that is driven by the firm belief that peace and prosperity in the region can only be achieved in an environment of trust and mutual confidence. And peace and security is essential for socio-economic development of our countries.

Afghanistan holds immense significance for us, not only because we share a common border or ethnic affinity, but also because together we can usher in a new era of regional connectivity and regional cooperation in line with the vision of transformation decade enunciated by President Ashraf Ghani.

Inspired by a famous poem by Allama Iqbal the term “Heart of Asia” (Qalb-e-Asya) refers to Afghanistan’s location at the intersection of Asia’s three regions viz. South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Iqbal’s love for Afghanistan, its scholars and mystics, its rulers and people and its customs and traditions was unlimited. While terming it Heart of Asia, he rightly identified that Afghanistan will be the determining factor in the peace and stability of the region in times to come and that problems in this country, if not addressed effectively, would spread to the whole region.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

You may all know that the Process was initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey that began in November 2011, to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly, encouraging security and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbours.

It is heartening to note that today this initiative is thriving at a rapid pace and has gained unprecedented momentum within just four years of its inception.

The co-chairs of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process share a vision to build a comprehensive and enduring relationship, based on trust and deeper cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, trade and economic cooperation, energy and connectivity, support for reconciliation and regional cooperation.

We hope to add to the dynamism and depth of the Process by taking some tangible decisions that could help pace up the process of regional growth and prosperity.
We are firmly committed to ensure that the Transformation Phase on which Afghanistan has embarked upon, becomes a harbinger of regional growth and prosperity.

The positive trajectory of our bilateral relations with Afghanistan, particularly since last year, has lent vigour to the initiatives taken at collective fora.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan in 2013 and visit of President Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan in 2014, proved to be milestones in strengthening our deep-rooted friendship with Afghanistan.

The recent visit of Prime Minister to Kabul has added a new dimension to our mutual commitment for creating a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood in the region. We see our collective efforts for peace and reconciliation as the ultimate culmination to bring about a lasting settlement of the conflicts that has been raging, in one form or the other, for the last three decades. We have also resolved to eliminate terrorism through coordinated efforts. We have agreed that the enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan. We are confident to effectively face the challenges that face us today by mutual cooperation for moving forward on the path of peace, progress and prosperity.

Adding to that, the willingness of participating countries in consolidating their efforts for implementation of projects envisaged for enhancement of economic connectivity would give a boost to regional prosperity.

With such a rich combination of dedication and resourcefulness, I hope that we would be able to collectively continue to drive the Heart of Asia Process on a productive path.

I wish you good luck and success in your deliberations.

Thank you.

Islamabad,
25 May, 2015

180/2015
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