Opening the gate to South Asian prosperity


Hopes for a sustainable peace thus prosperity in the poverty-stricken South Asian region can be refreshed India and Pakistan, the two traditional nuclear-armed arch-rivals, are all set to mend the decades-old dents in their bilateral ties through promoting trade and cultural exchanges.
New Delhi and Islamabad, perhaps having developed a long-awaited regional approach, are working vigorously on trade liberalization and other positives that, officials across the Line of Control (LoC) are upbeat, would not only help the two countries bridge the ages-old mutual “trust deficit” but also from each other’s huge but still untapped trade and business potential.
Having decided to open the “second gate” at Wahga border sometimes during this month, Pakistan and India have almost concluded negotiations on the issuance of business visas, a major stumbling block for the businessmen and traders on two sides of the LoC.
Further, a group of over 60 Indian exhibitors would arrive in Karachi in July, most probably on 12th, to look for ways to promote trade and investment between the two countries.
“The second gate of Wahga border would be opened in April to make the mutual exports more facilitated,” Tariq Puri, CEO Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), told a “curtain raiser” press briefing of TDAP’s initiative Lifestyle Pakistan, the country’s first mega lifestyle exhibition cultural program being held in India on a government-to-government level.
The event is due from April 12 to 15 in New Delhi’s Pragati Madan at, what Puri said, a “customized area” stretching over 8000 square kilometer where more than 100 top of the line Pakistani exhibitors would showcase the “Best of Pakistan“.
Also, Friday marked a sort of start-up in the mutual trade as the TDAP chief said two 40-feet containers, carrying 70 percent of the goods to be stalled at the exhibition, crossed the Wahga border to reach India. Whereas the exhibitors claimed to have sold out all of the exhibit-able stuff, Puri said the Indian government had allowed Pakistani exhibitors to retail their products which would be subject to applicable taxes.
According to Puri, the event was being held with cooperation of TDAP and Indian Trade Proportion Organization in reciprocity to the “Made in India Show” held recently by the Indian side in Lahore.
Led by TDAP, the Pakistani delegation would comprise an organized team of traders, businessmen, fashion designers, models, cooks and other related to cultural and trade sectors. The exhibition would formally open on April 12 in the presence of Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Anand Sharma, the commerce ministers of Pakistan and India.
The Pakistani brands to be showcased include Gul Ahmed, AlKaram, Hub Leather, Khaadi, Chen One, Bonanza, Junaid Jamshed Lawn, Orient Textiles, Nishat Textiles, Faiza Same, Honey Waqar, Asim Jofa and others. “We have a lot to offer to India where Pakistani lawns, Khaadi and shoes are more popular,” said Tehmina Khalid.
Others who termed the neighboring country as a huge market for Pakistani goods include Nadia Hussain, Asad Sajjad, Farrukh, Farida Qureshi, Nasr, Rahat, Younas Basher, Salman Junaid, Faiza Samee, Shehzad, Zeba Hussain, and Ziad Basher of Gul Ahmed.
Puri said 32 of the Pakistani delegates were from the rice sector who would discuss with the Indian side’s cooperation on the utilization and installation of rice steaming plants, brow oil plants and rice refineries.
Asked if the two sides had a will to permanently overcome the traditional bottlenecks like issuance of visas etc, Puri replied in positive. “The business visas would be issued within a month or so,” he told Pakistan Today.
Earlier, he said two special bank branches at Pragati Madan would be facilitating the Pakistani delegates on their remittance related issues. The first delegation would leave for India on Monday, April 9, in a big plane to be chartered by TDAP. Sidra Iqbal of TDAP told the briefing that a similar curtain raiser media would also be held on April 10 in India’s ITC Moria Hotel where most of the Pakistani delegates would be staying.