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Heart of Asia Conference

The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process was established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors. The dialogue was launched to expand practical coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in facing common threats, including counterterrorism, counter narcotics, poverty, and extremism. The Dialogue also focused on "Silk Routes Partnership for Migration" to promote further dialogue and cooperation on the issue of migration, Afghanistan’s development and the withdrawal of international forces, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, trade promotion, the expansion of the transit corridors under the Asian Development Bank’s Central Asia Regional Economic Corridor (CAREC) Program, fund the Afghan National Security Forces and scholarship program to educate Afghan students in Kazakhstan.

Heart of Asia Ministerial conference promotes regional stability, security in Central Asia and South Asia. The conference also brings greater regional representatives from both public and private sectors where the discussion of development in war-torn Afghanistan takes place. Since its inception in 2011, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process has been led by two co-chairs: Afghanistan as a permanent co-chair, and one of the Hearts of Asia countries hosting the annual ministerial meeting as the co-chair.

Founded 2 Nov 2011 - Istanbul, Turkey

Member Countries

Afghanistan Azerbaijan China India Iran
Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Russia Saudi Arabia
Tajikistan Turkey Turkmenistan United Arab Emirates

Primary Objective

Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan and near and extended neighbours

The process has 3 pillars

  • Political Consultation
  • Confidence Building Measures (CBM)
  • Cooperation with regional organizations.
India is the lead country for trade, commerce and investment CBM.

Four Tier Pillars of Political Consultations

  • Ministerial Conference (MC): Once a year
  • Senior Officials Meetings (SOMs): Three times a year
  • Ambassadorial Meetings (AMs): Discretion of Permanent Chair
  • Regional Technical Group Meetings (RTGs): Two a year within CBM (Confidence Building Measure)

Significance of the Dialogue Process

It is named as Istanbul process because the initiative was taken by Turkey. In the backdrop of US armed forces and NATO forces from western countries were soon going to leave Afghanistan, there was a need to provide stability, security, prosperity in Afghanistan. So it is better in the region’s interest, that regional countries come together to get engaged and to ensure that there is no terrorism in Afghanistan in the form of the Taliban or other terror groups. Thus, it is an important platform where regional countries get together.
Important regional countries (14 members) which fulfill important purpose in promoting development, stability, and security in Afghanistan. The special emphasis of this conference is education, disaster management, drug trafficking, terrorism and counter-terrorism, connectivity through Afghanistan- connecting South Asia to Central Asia. These are significant aspects of what needs to be done. Once NATO led by USA armed forces left, the first challenge that confronts regional countries and the international community is to provide security and safety in the region. The biggest challenge in fulfilling it is confronting terrorism. Thus, all the countries have to get together and take concrete and concerted action against terrorism.

Ministerial Conferences

1st Conference 2 November 2011, Istanbul (Turkey)
2nd Conference 14 June 2012, Kabul (Afghanistan)
3rd Conference 26 April 2013, Almaty (Kazakhstan)
4th Conference 31 October 2014, Beijing (China)
5th Conference 9 December 2015, Islamabad (Pakistan)
6th Conference 4 December 2016, Amritsar (India)
7th Conference 2017, Azerbaijan

Outcome of the Amritsar dialogue process

Terrorism was declared as the biggest threat to peace at the conference and there was a call for an immediate end to it. India pressed for collective efforts to ensure resurgent forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation India and Afghanistan have envisaged land trade from the Chabahar port and a dedicated air corridor between Delhi and Kabul