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Honourable Ambassador of Afghanistan, representing the fellow co-chair of Afghanistan in the Heart of Asia process,

Excellencies,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you at the Foreign Office.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process has undoubtedly evolved as one of the most dynamic Afghan-led regional process. It aims to promote peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia region.

With Afghanistan at its center, the process has helped build meaningful linkages across the region. Heart of Asia provides a useful forum to discuss, implement and evaluate development ideas and projects for Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that continuity and success of this process is dependent on clear vision and effective leadership in Afghanistan and commitment and sincere efforts of member and supporting countries.

Our gathering this evening is reflective of our collective resolve to help build a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, which is vital for the security and stability of us all.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Pakistan attaches great importance to the common principles and commitments guiding the Istanbul Process. Pakistan supports the goal of regional cooperation, particularly in the context of promoting peace, stability, trade and connectivity.

Pakistan has assumed the co-chair of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process at a crucial juncture in Afghanistan’s journey towards reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Since last Ministerial Meeting in Beijing in October 2014, we have witnessed monumental changes reshaping the political horizon of Afghanistan and defining its future outlook.

Significant progress has been made in the political, economic and security realms.

As it steps into the Transformation Decade, Afghanistan needs all the support from the international community that it can get.

Regional cooperation is crucial to reinforcing Afghanistan’s national efforts for economic development and deeper regional integration.

The time is rife for imparting momentum to the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process through approaches that respect Afghanistan’s sovereign identity and place its priorities at the center of development cooperation.

Distinguished Colleagues!

Pakistan and Afghanistan not only share geographical boundaries but are also connected through an in-dissolvable bond of history, faith and kinship. The relations between the two countries have undergone positive transformation marked by deepened political engagement, expanded economic cooperation and enhanced security coordination.

Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is one example of our deep desire to see Afghanistan rising as a peaceful and stable nation. Pakistan, as a co-chair of the Process, would endeavour to ensure that this resourceful blend of vision, leadership, efforts and commitment steers Afghanistan towards stability and prosperity generating a domino effect for the region.

Taking the opportunity of your presence here, I would like to share that Pakistan as co-chair will be undertaking a number of activities in connection with Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

We are planning to host the first Senior Officials Meeting in May, the programme for which we will finalize in consultation with our co-chair.

The SOM will afford us the opportunity to deliberate upon the ideas to formulate contents of the “Islamabad Declaration” to be adopted at the conclusion of Ministerial Meeting, hopefully in November this year.

It would also be an occasion to take stock of the progress and of activities carried out under the six CBMs.

As co-lead of Disaster Management-CBM, we plan to host the Fourth Regional Technical Group meeting on 1 June 2015.

The invitations for participation are being forwarded to your respective Missions here in Islamabad and we look forward to active participation from the Heart of Asia members and supporting countries and regional and international organizations.

Later in the year, we hope to organize the Heart of Asia Ministerial meeting, for which we will be coordinating as co-chair and identifying a date.

In the end, I would like to reiterate our firm commitment to working closely with the Heart of Asia partners to accomplish the shared goal of regional cooperation in all areas under the Heart of Asia process.

I thank you all!

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