Building trade ties


Encouraging developments

The integrated border checkpost at Wagha will go a long way towards strengthening businesses relations between Pakistan and India besides ushering in an era of prosperity between the two South Asian neighbours who shared a chequered history spanning over 60 years. There’s no disputing Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s assertion that liberalising heavily restricted trade and investment flows was now the driver of peace efforts between the two countries. Addressing a press conference along with Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim in New Delhi hours before the inaugural ceremony, Sharma said India had also decided in principle to allow foreign direct investment from Pakistan.

There was another development about both the countries having agreed to allow opening of bank branches to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth bilateral trade. The two commerce ministers informed the media that several rounds of talks had been held between the officials of the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan in this regard.

The political and business leaders gathered at the checkpost were optimistic that trade between the two countries through land route would benefit both nations and usher in an era of prosperity. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif rightly suggested to the Indian leadership to sit on the table, hold dialogue and make progress by living peacefully.

In the days leading up to the opening of the new trading post two important interactions took place between the Pakistani and Indian leadership. One was between President Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, while the other between the two prime ministers in Seoul last month where Mr Singh offered 5000 MW electricity to Pakistan.

The gradual dismantling of trade barriers will enhance goodwill between Pakistan and india before they tackle major disputes including Kashmir and Siachen in the resumed peace talks which were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Both countries need to understand that they will have to refrain from belligerence in order to create peace in the region.