Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher writes to Ministry of Home Affairs saying that this unilateral measure could boost trade ties between the two countries
A fortnight ahead of the first bilateral meeting of ministers from India and Pakistan since the new government took charge in New Delhi, reports have suggested that the Indian government may be seriously considering allowing mobile phone SIM cards issued in Pakistan to function in India.
Such a move would benefit travellers from across the border, who visit India for trade or other business interests.
A report in The Economic Times said, while citing a letter from Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher on the subject to the Ministry of Home Affairs, that this unilateral measure could boost trade ties between the two countries.
Indian SIM cards are not usable in Pakistan, and the country has not yet announced any move to free that ban, though a return gesture would be expected. In 2012, Pakistan expanded the list of items tradable with India from 1,918 items to 5,800.
“Pakistanis coming on visas are not terrorists. Giving SIM card access will only enhance business ties between the two nations,” the report quotes a government official as saying. Bonafide visitors who may be in India on business or tourism are needlessly inconvenienced by the ban on Pakistani SIM cards.
A report in the Hindu Businessline also quoted an official as saying the telecommunications ban was a bit absurd since there was already seamless communication between the two countries through the Internet and via applications such as Whatsapp. The Telecom Ministry is reportedly willing to go ahead with the proposal provided the Home Ministry gives its nod to the move.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif met the day after the former’s swearing-in ceremony in May this year. Among the issues raised during their talks was greater cooperation in trade and trade liberalisation.
The two nations’ trade ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Khurram Dastgir Khan will hold talks in Bhutan to discuss revival of talks on bilateral trade liberalisation, on the sidelines of the SAFTA meet in the last week of July.