Major strides: India opens door to more trade with Pakistan

Published: April 14, 2012
Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim  and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the Wagah border. PHOTO: AFP

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the Wagah border. PHOTO: AFP


India, quite literally, opened the door to more trade with Pakistan on Friday.

The country not only allowed, in principle, foreign direct investment (FDI) from Pakistan but also inaugurated a second integrated check post (ICP) on the border at Attari.

“As part of the initiatives to promote trade, India has in principle agreed to allow FDI from Pakistan,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said after a meeting with visiting Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

Sharma said the procedures and necessary requirements for allowing investments from Pakistan were in the formulation stage and would be notified soon.

The process, however, is expected to be far from swift since it is not just a negotiation between the neighbouring countries but also among various ministries within India. India, for example, badly needs an injection of foreign investment in civil aviation, but experts say the chances of allowing Pakistani FDI in civil aviation were slim.

In addition, both countries have also agreed in principle to allow the opening of each other’s bank branches in their territories to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have held several rounds of talks in this regard and a very positive situation has emerged.

“Both RBI and SBP are in favour of opening up of branches on both sides of the border,” Sharma said. This was endorsed by Fahim who said that both sides were on the same page on this issue.

Sharma added that following the proactive steps taken by Pakistan, India would also carry out a review of the ‘sensitive trade list’ during the next few months as a confidence-building measure. He also announced that an India-Pakistan Business Council will be set up soon.

Fahim said that talks were under way between the two countries on exploring opportunities of textile trade.

“We have also decided to open up negotiations in the hospitality, education and tourism sectors and experts would be constituted to work out the modalities for talks,” he said.

Second border post

The political and business leadership of Pakistan and India gathered at the Indian side of the border at Attari, near Amritsar, to inaugurate a second Integrated Check Post (ICP).

The new post would pave way for smooth flow of road traffic, provide upgraded and modern infrastructure for traders from both countries, and facilitate the people crossing the border.

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, Indian Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Pakistani counterpart Shahbaz Sharif accompanied Sharma and Fahim in unveiling the plaque.

Inaugurating the check post, the leaders pledged to remove all artificial barriers to trade.

The Indian Punjab chief minister called upon Pakistan to extend its approved list of 137 items traded from Wagah-Attari land route, and bring it at par with the 6,000 items being traded at present through the Mumbai- Karachi sea route.

Badal also urged the governments to extend the rail tracks to the newly-established ICP to further boost trade.

He asked the two countries to relax visa regimes, at least for the elected representatives and pilgrims visiting shrines. He also urged Pakistan to allow transit of goods to Afghanistan.

The Indian home minister endorsed Badal’s demands and said the new post at Attari is the first of 13 ICPs India will construct on the border with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Chidambaram termed the opening a gateway of trade and prosperity to Central Asian countries that is bound to increase Indo-Pak trade four folds.

He added that both countries are endeavouring for visa-free travel for which a joint working group has been formed.

Shahbaz Sharif cited the example of European Union and said that if western Europe can have a single currency after decades of enmity, why is it impossible for India and Pakistan.

Instead of fighting with one another, India and Pakistan must launch a war on poverty, and work towards economic integration, trade innovation and collective power generation, he said.

Instead of importing goods from Mumbai to Karachi via Dubai or Singapore, why can they not be traded through Attari, Shahbaz added.

Collaboration on education

The two countries did not stop just at trade though.

The Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Karachi-based Institute of Business Administration (IBA) to provide executive education in Pakistan.

Under the MoU, signed by ISB Deputy Dean Deepak Chandra and IBA Dean and Director Ishrat Husain, the former will offer open enrolment and custom-designed programmes, through its Centre for Executive Education.

“In the first year, we are looking at a portfolio of 12 open programmes. We will explore and pursue custom-designed courses after holding discussions with thought leaders and the educational industry in Pakistan,” Chandra told reporters.

The first of such schemes is slated to commence in June 2012, which will be classroom-based learning at IBA, with options to add technology-assisted models in due course.

“India had made huge advances in higher education, science and technology and we in Pakistan should benefit from these achievements,” Husain said.

“I hope the collaboration between ISB and IBA is the beginning of a long process of collaboration between other institutions of higher learning in the two countries. We look forward to an exchange of students and faculty, and collaborate on research as we build on this success,” he added.

(Read: Nearly there)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (53)

  • Thoughtful
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:36AM

    Lungi, sikh beard.and toleranceWhy is IndIa working with minority haters


  • Ch Allah Daad
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:55AM

    Its a great step for economic growth and prosperity of both countries. Trade is the only game in which both teams win. Off-course our protectors will not like it. To bring them on board, India should allot some land near border, so that expansion of their society is not interrupted.


  • Adeel759
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:57AM

    Wonderfull, no news could be better. I hope Kasabs are kept on leash.Recommend

  • Tufail Malik
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:59AM

    In modern era, relations between the countries are baed on economic relations and trade, both countries, Pakistan and India should build confidence to develop trade.


  • Babloo
    Apr 14, 2012 - 6:05AM

    The opening of the border post, that can handle many hundred trucks a day, is a VERY REAL step towards better trade relations. All those who contributed towards it deserve to be congratulated.


  • Ashok
    Apr 14, 2012 - 6:27AM

    Why does Chidambaram always dress in a dhoti/veshti? It is extremely embarrassing and un-professional. Hasn’t he heard of protocol? It looks like Shahbaz Sharif is wondering the same thing.


  • Raj
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:34AM

    Pakistani politicians proudly wear Salwar Kameez.
    @Thought: Two Sikh gentlemen in the picture are Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Indian state of Punjab. I do not know about Pakistan, in India minorities enjoy all the rights reserved in the constitution of India for her citizens.


  • sahib
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:34AM

    Good to see the simplicity in the dressing of the Indians. Pakistanis are dressed like baboos. Typical Pakistani sahb attitude.


  • Gaurav
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:35AM

    I do not know how wearing dhoti/veshti makes it embarrassing and un-professional. Smartness reflects by how you dress, not what you wear.


  • Mirza
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:47AM

    Shahbaz Sharif always looks at the wrong things even in public! Lolz


  • r p
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:56AM

    better Hafis Sayeed flee from Pakistan…these people have no place in this world


  • Arijit Sharma
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:11AM

    @Ashok: ” … Why does Chidambaram always dress in a dhoti/veshti? … “

    Why not ? It is one of our native dresses. Does the Westerner change into dhoti/kurta when meeting Indians ?


  • Faraz
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:12AM

    This is the way to go. Worldwide, other countries have disputes, too like Japan and Korea, China and US, even China and Taiwan have trade relations (the trade goes on). Economics and trade rule, this is not the 20th century anymore where issue like Kashmir should be allowed to be in the way of prosperity and peace, also my fellow Pakistanis should think more rationally then just emotionally. Let the goodwill take over, its only a win-win situation for both the countries.


  • Hairaan
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:12AM

    Indian team is dressed in their regional/cultural dresses while our in the former master’s. We both gained independence at the same time but Pakistanis are still mentally the slaves.


  • gp65
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:15AM

    @Ashok: “Why does Chidambaram always dress in a dhoti/veshti? It is extremely embarrassing and un-professional.”
    When he goes to Western countries he wears suits. But within own country what is the shame in wearing traditional clothes. Indira Gandhi, Sona also wore.wear saree. Theydid not wear business suits.


  • Gilgiti-No voting right but Proud Pakistanigi
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:26AM

    God step… ties between the tow countries should be encourag


  • unbeliever
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:29AM


    it’s called respect to one’s indigneous culture. he is from STANFORD but still decides to be in his traditional dresses. there is no such protocal that says local clothes can’t be allowed.
    and if the pakistanis have any embarassment in wearing their salwar kurtas, its just a matter of shame for them.


    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:40AM

    The best of news that is , I hope both the countries have the visa free travel soon as UNO reports of 60percent of migrated Indian population in Pakistan now in thier exodus yearn to travell to India and are faced with the heckels of the Visa Regime of the 70s thing, they should follow the E.Us example and proceed for the people who always have been the victims of every attrocity the political dogmas played ,its Enough of Suffering to the Masses .


  • Hasan Ansari
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:46AM

    Now we will be able to blame the Indians for blackouts. haaaaaa


  • Yash
    Apr 14, 2012 - 9:48AM


    thats no big deal….its a traditional dress and is internationally recognized….theres no breaking of protocol….its decent dressing


  • Raj
    Apr 14, 2012 - 10:20AM

    @Ashok – You seem to be quite delusional. How does it matter whether if he wears a dhoti or suit as long as he is doing is job smartly. Don’t make your mind slave to what most people think, rather have a thought of your own which may coincide with majority or at times may not but that does not mean that you are lesser than anybody.


  • haider
    Apr 14, 2012 - 10:42AM

    why is the mane plate only in hindi and english.. where is urdu?????


  • Syed
    Apr 14, 2012 - 11:06AM


    Embarrassing for whom? You? Sri Lanka’s president Rajapaksa wears dhoti all the time.


  • Akash
    Apr 14, 2012 - 11:12AM

    As long as we dont have kasabs entering the border, its all good.


  • DidYaSeeTht
    Apr 14, 2012 - 11:41AM

    I can see Hindi,Punjabi and English written,maybe the Urdu one is at the top hence not in the Photograph.


  • Concerned
    Apr 14, 2012 - 11:54AM

    Hope these goodwill measures continue and there is no interference from militants and the number one establishment.


  • khurram ahmed
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:00PM

    Its great news,

    but definitely there is something extra-ordinary for Indian part, they may use Pakistani route for Afghanistan and Iran as big markets by providing these facilities.

    There is something wrong ??????????????? in long run, because the Indian Government is not good as they are looking.



  • Hold your horses
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:38PM


    You have any problems with chidambaram wearing a mundu, then go take a walk…’s not any international forum…they were meeting their brothers across the border….and before you jump to any conclusion, let me tell you that I am an Indian…..


  • Tilopa
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:45PM

    I am totally against wearing unprofessional dresses in international forums.
    First of all you can continue wear you traditional dress in your own country but when you are outside it then you should be professionally conscious.
    I have always observed that these two guys,Chidambaran and AK Antony always wear stupid dresses
    .In Army parade when there are well disciplined handsome peoples walking around,AK Antony comes in his stupid dresses and become an eyesore.

    My only suggestion is that they bring professionalism to their attitude.In domestic forums they represent their ethnicity so they can continue with their ‘fashion’ but outside they should be aware of international standards.


  • Naseer Muhammad
    Apr 14, 2012 - 1:51PM

    This is amazing news!!!! Well done Pakistan and India!!!! Europe overcame it’s problems and has prospered and it’s about time South Asia does the same. We need to remind ourselves that one of the most sophisticated and advanced civilizations flourished in what is modern day Pakistan the Indus Valley Civilization 5000 years ago!!! We must work together as what unites us is far greater than what divides us!!!! :-)


  • vickram
    Apr 14, 2012 - 2:10PM

    for your info, Mr Chidambaram, allegedly the most corrupt Home Minister India has ever seen.

    By the way, corruption in India, was introduced to India by the dhoti-wearing politicians of Tamil Nadu.

    One minister from Tamil Nadu is already in jail for having amassed over 1000 crores, and he is even refusing to apply for bail !!! (Perhaps, he just wants to finish his jail term and then he can enjoy his crores. )


  • Parvez
    Apr 14, 2012 - 4:17PM

    This initiative looks like its going in the right direction. Lets hope it does not get disrupted.


  • G. Din
    Apr 14, 2012 - 4:40PM

    @vickram: to Raj
    “By the way, corruption in India, was introduced to India by the dhoti-wearing politicians of Tamil Nadu. “
    Oh, please, give us a break! Why don’t you go get a hobby? It will broaden your mind!


  • Truth Seeker
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:08PM

    @ All Indian Commentators:

    (This article is not about the dress code, so let’s forget it and come to the real subject.)

    The cooperation and trade between the two neighbors is the best thing possible for peace and prosperity of the two, but only if it is fruitful for both the nations.

    Currently India exports US$ 3.2 billion worth of goods to Pakistan (and another US$ 4 billion via U.A.E.) and imports only US$ 0.40 billion worth of goods from Pakistan. So clearly, Pakistan is not benefiting from this trade relation.

    My suggestion is to give MFN status to India without any further delay and also allow unrestricted free trade with each other, but put some kind of mechanism to restrict the imbalance within 10%, so that both nations could prosper from the relation. Further, any move from either side must be reciprocated by the other side also, as in the case of FDI permission, same facility must also be extended automatically to India.Recommend

  • Chulbul Pandey
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:17PM

    It indeed is a great step taken in right direction. This was unthinkable just a couple of years ago.
    For all those who are more interested in what our leaders are wearing – take a chill pill. Wearing a native dhoti should be a matter of pride, not shame. I am proud of our PM Manmohan ji and other leaders who are always dressed so simple and modestly.

    Besides, the agenda of the event is more important. Lets concentrate on that rather than who is wearing what!


  • Thomas
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @Arijit Sharma:

    He used to wear pants and shirt and suits when he was at Harvard . He is just a hypocrite.


  • malik
    Apr 14, 2012 - 6:49PM

    Why would Pak businessmen invest India in the first place ? Doesn’t Pak require investment badly ?

    Is there anything which I don’t see ?

  • Suresh
    Apr 14, 2012 - 7:10PM

    @Truth Seeker Why do you expect Pak India trade imbalance at around 10%? What is this ratio for China, EU and USA? In 2010 Chinese exports to Pakistan was US $6.9 billion, while its imports from Pakistan were US $1.78 billion, that is whooping 75% imbalance. This may be same with US and EU. So, why such an high expectations in case of India?


  • Truth Seeker
    Apr 14, 2012 - 7:29PM


    “Why do you expect Pak India trade imbalance at around 10%? “

    Because most Indian commentators here are telling us that free trade with India will benefit Pakistan more because we will get access to a much bigger market. And, I simply do not want them to complain later that Pakistan has occupied their markets ;). Don’t you believe in the equal benefits?


  • Babloo
    Apr 14, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Both countries will gain with increased trade.
    For example, One country may add 10 billion to its GDP and the other say 7-8 billion.
    So are you going to rejoice on the billions you have added ( which was not there before ) or going to cry over why the other guy won more ? Remember, Pakistan will get access to a market 8-9 times its GDP will India will get access to a market 1/8 of its GDP.
    With minimal transportation costs, producers in both countries will get access to more markets.
    Both would be winners.


  • Suresh
    Apr 14, 2012 - 8:14PM

    @Truth Seeker. Certainly there should be equal benefit and equal opportunity. My point was, since Pakistan has its own weakness to capture any larger market, as evident in its imbalances with its other major trading partners, genuine Indian exports should not be held hostage to the 10% limit you have set. Further, if India starts exporting high value/volume energy/petroleum products, there will be nothing left for exports from India. I am for goods from Central Asia reaching South East Asia and back through this check post, thereby Pakistan fulfilling its age old ambition of exploiting its geostrategic location much positive way. This political benefit to Pakistan as a soft power in transcontinental .trade is invaluable specially compared to its trade deficit with India.


  • Ashfaq
    Apr 14, 2012 - 10:22PM

    Do not lecture us what is good for us or bad. We now it very well. You take care of yourself. I am sick and tired of Indians coming here to give people Bhashans which they are not absolutely interested in. If you and your countrymen has such a chronic disease then go get it treated. But do not come here to lecture us. No one is stopping trade but the balance must be maintained and We will make sure it does. We are not interested in your economic theories so keep them to yourself. Economic theories are more like social Sciences and different models work in different environments. What model works With India , we has yet to see it. But interpreting European or other models here will make little sense. If you have doubt about it then write to me directly and I will answer you in details instead of wasting people’s time here on this forum.Main point is, Stop teaching us what is good for us. If we will want to know from you, we will ask for it. Thank you.


  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    Apr 14, 2012 - 10:25PM

    @sahib No body can beat Mahatma Gandhi when it comes to simplicity. He went to London in his typical Dhoti. Churchill used to call him a half naked faqeer. It requires lots of inner strength to be simple. Let us hope trade grows between India and Pakistan by leaps and bound and the people of both the countries benefit.


  • Apr 14, 2012 - 10:56PM

    well said @Arijit Sharma:


  • bharat
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:12AM


    Same is the problems with you guys, just look at TOI.

    You guys are a big headache for the world


  • Pradeep
    Apr 15, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @Ashok – Your question of being embarrassed about wearing dhoti is the same place in the brain which also wants to get fair skin by usage of fairness cream. A sense of self-shame that will never go away. I love wearing suits and would prefer to wear one when the opportunities arise, but I would never be embarrassed to be seen in a dhoti or feel superior while dealing with one in such an attire.


  • naive
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:52AM

    @Ashfaq : “But do not come here to lecture us.”

    In cyber space there is no concept of here and there. It is vast open space without boundaries and without ownership. Your narrow minded rants cannot stop any one from commenting. If you don’t like it then don’t come “HERE”.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Apr 15, 2012 - 12:41PM

    Shahbaz Sharif, the Pakistani Chief Minister of Punjab suggested an introduction of a single currency for India and Pakistan. Why not, both countries use Rupee as their currencies. The two countries can start their experiment in Punjab – the Indian State and the Pakistani Province cooperate and overcome their economic and fiscal disparities together. They can learn from European Union and avoid the same mistakes. No doubt this will boost Pakistan’s economy significantly.


  • G. Din
    Apr 15, 2012 - 5:07PM

    “@Arijit Sharma:
    He used to wear pants and shirt and suits when he was at Harvard . He is just a hypocrite.”

    Nehru wore a full length English suit complete with a bowling hat when he attended his first Commonwealth Conference in London. And, he was representing India there. Was he an hypocrite also?
    When in Rome, dress as the Romans do, if you want to fit in and don’t want to make a spectacle of yourself.


  • Suresh
    Apr 15, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @Ashfaq “But do not come here to lecture us.”

    There is “Incredible India” advertisement on top of this page here i India. Indian bring eye balls to this page and the Indian advertisement bring revenue to the publisher. So, your advice is very much against Tribune’s revenue model. As for my comment, the moderators here do wonderful job, and filter what they feel inappropriate. So, it is upto you to visit here.


  • Indian
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:14PM

    @G. Din:
    get a life.. It is not Rome fyi.. it’s India. I don’t understand why you do you care so much about dresses. Dress is not what makes a person. As minister he follows protocol when he is US/UN etc but within India he is free to wear whatever he likes. Nobody give a damn about it ! Do something more meaningful in life than whining.


  • G. Din
    Apr 16, 2012 - 12:39AM

    “Dress is not what makes a person. As minister he follows protocol when he is US/UN etc but within India he is free to wear whatever he likes. Nobody give a damn about it ! “
    Au contraire how you dress gives quite a clue to your personality. There is no protocol about dressing in the US or at UN. You can pretty well dress as you please as long as you don’t make a fool of yourself. I say, he is free to wear whatever he damn well pleases. In response to someone pointing what an eye-sore Mr. Antony looks when amongst uniformed men, let me say it is the best expression of dominance of civil authority over the armed services!


  • Salih
    May 19, 2012 - 10:40AM

    It so sad that this historical event was written in English and Hindi, where Hindi is nowhere speak in Pakistan, however not in Urdu which is the National language of Pakistan and speak and understandable all over subcontinent.


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