Heart of Asia Conference: Amritsar Declaration
The Sixth Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference has adopted the “Amritsar Declaration” with its prime focus on terrorism. It stresses on all the countries concerned to take an account of the deteriorating situation and enhance regional economic cooperation. PM Narendra Modi had picked Amritsar as the venue in line with his policy of hosting international conferences outside the capital to open the world closer to other cities of India. In addition, Amritsar was the apt choice as it adds to the theme of connectivity as the city has been on the Grand Trunk Road which once connected Sonargaon in Bangladesh to Peshawar in Pakistan.
Three significant issues were discussed in the conference, viz. elimination of terrorism and all its manifestations which include dismantling of all terrorist safe havens and disruption of all kinds of financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorist activities. The declaration also enumerated the grave challenges posed to the region emanate from terrorism, violent forms of extremism, radicalization, separatism and sectarianism. It mentioned that together these pose a serious threat to territorial integrity, economic development, sovereignty, bilateral and regional cooperation. The need for highly effective de-radicalization and counter-radicalization strategies was also felt. Concerns were also felt over growing violence in Afghanistan by groups like Al Qaeda, LeT, JeM etc. The MoU between China and Afghanistan on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was also welcomed by the declaration.
Almost all the participating and supporting countries along with international organizations attended the conference. Guest countries included Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Uzbekistan.