Increased trade with India

Published: May 8, 2012

Once mistrust is minimised, governments can get around to discussing thorny, seemingly unsolvable issues like Kashmir. PHOTO: FILE

As Pakistan and India inch towards better ties, hope lies in the fact that the two governments currently in power seem committed to improving relations in a realistic, concrete manner. Seemingly realising that an accord on Kashmir or agreements on terrorism are beyond the realm of possibility at this time, the two sides have concentrated on trade, where there are mutual benefits to be found. Speaking at a cross-border business conference in Lahore, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani echoed this, saying that he can foresee trade between the two countries running into billions of dollars. Till now, senseless restrictions and prohibitive tariffs have held potential trade between the two countries back. All this seems to be slowly changing as both sides realise that the fruits of trade can help overcome historical enmity.

Another sign of progress is that the main opposition party is trying to outflank the government by being even more dovish in its policy towards India, rather than going after the government for not being hawkish enough. Just a few days ago, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan should abolish the visa regime with India, even if it has to do so unilaterally. Even the PPP government, as eager as it is to pursue peace with India, will not take quite so bold an action but that it is being pressed to speed up the pace of normalisation with India is very encouraging. If the two biggest parties in the country decide that peace is the only way to go, the military will find it harder to stymie their efforts.

Pursuing peace through trade may be the best strategy to deploy currently, but there are other low-risk steps that can be taken concurrently. While doing away with visas altogether may not be plausible, both countries can certainly make it easier for families on both sides of the border to visit each other. Entertainers, artists and sportsmen should not have to go through hoops just to visit the other country. Such trips can serve to reduce mistrust and build ties between people who have been denied contact with their neighbours. Once mistrust is minimised, governments can get around to discussing thorny, seemingly unsolvable issues like Kashmir.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • sundar
    May 9, 2012 - 3:04AM

    Like lot of people across the border I wish we live like friends and trade. But I like to see some visible change in Pak military’s policy. When the bad guys, who the whole civilized world thinks is a mass murderer, walks freely and giving venomous sermons openly how do your neighbours feel confident to jump into to the friendship bandwagon.

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  • Hindi hain hum...
    May 9, 2012 - 3:14AM

    both countries can certainly make it easier for families on both sides of the border to visit each other

    India must discourage family visits from across the border. We already have too many Pakistanis coming over to visit families and never returning. Either these families must cut ties with those on the other side, or they can migrate to Pakistan.

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  • Mirza
    May 9, 2012 - 7:40AM

    The US has open and most trade with Canada and also with Mexico. It is in the interest of Pakistani people to buy Indian goods at a lower price. That would also make Pakistani traders honest as there would be a healthy competition. Who is going to buy adultrated milk, drugs, or fake items when they could get better in the open market? This would decrease the corruption and improve the quality in Pakistani products. Trade not war, is the only way out of our poverty.

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  • Ravish
    May 9, 2012 - 8:38AM

    All said and done, another terror attack on India by Pakistani ‘non-state’ actors will set this process back by 5 years to a decade. Hence Pakistan must also prioritize dismantling of its terrorist network, be it in Afghan or India.

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  • ramanan
    May 9, 2012 - 9:59AM

    In my opinion, trade, cricket, siachen, sir creek , Hafiz Sayee, Dawood Ibrahim, Kashmir everthing can wait. First let Paksitan change its school syllabi that injects venom against India and Hindus in particular.

    All things can wait. It is the school syllabi that is the fountain head of all things negative about Pakistan vis-a-vis India.

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  • Zes
    May 9, 2012 - 11:07AM

    @Hindi hain hum… I agree with your thoughts as there are many Indian families as well who came to Pakistan for visiting their families and never returned back to their native states Bihar and Northern India

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  • Sushant
    May 9, 2012 - 1:29PM

    Great Initiative by PM of Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif…I hope god bless Indian politician will also same wisdom so that they can reciprocate in same manner….its the interest of the both counties and there people to live peacefully and help each other….

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  • indian
    May 9, 2012 - 1:42PM

    @Zes: Also add uzbeks, tajiks, chechen, arabs. They are living without permission.

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  • May 10, 2012 - 5:41AM

    Kashmiri people want strong friendship relationship between two neighbours, economic developments and peace in the region. For that resolution of Kashmir need attention.Settlement of Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of people through peaceful talks will bring friendship atmosphere and smile . World community should pay attention for that. It is key of peace.

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