‘Will India and Pakistan move on if their economic interests match’

Published: December 20, 2012
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“Fear of disruption in trading interests constraints potential conflict [between countries],” Saif Asif Khan, director of research and development
at the FPCCI. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

“Fear of disruption in trading interests constraints potential conflict [between countries],” Saif Asif Khan, director of research and development at the FPCCI. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

KARACHI: Will Pakistan and India chose peace and stability over conflict if their economic interests are intertwined, questioned Saif Asif Khan at a two-day international conference on ‘Stabilising South Asia’ organised by the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), on Wednesday .

Asif Khan, who is the director of research and development at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, was one of the speakers at the second day of the conference which began on Tuesday.

According to him, “Fear of disruption in trading interests constraints potential conflict [between countries]”. Quoting the example of the impact that trade between Germany and France had on stabilising Europe after the Second World War, he proposed that “India and Pakistan could traverse a similar trajectory towards improving political relations without necessarily having to compromise on strategic and political interests”.

Khan pointed out that Pakistan and India are two major economies of South Asia and contribute around 80 per cent of the combined gross domestic product of the eight countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

“Trade between the two countries, however, is a low $2.6 billion, and is far below the potential of up to $10 billion identified by many experts,” he said.

Khan also mentioned that transport via road cost one-third of that through sea routes and was the best method for freight transport. He mentioned that the two countries should include more items in the list of goods that can be traded. Currently, only 137 items can enter Pakistan through Wagah border, but the list comes down to a mere 47 in number if three broad categories of fruits, vegetables and meat are defined.

He proposed that the railway route between Sindh and India should also be opened for transport. IoBM’s research director Dr Shahida Wizarat, who was hosting the conference, told The Express Tribune that relations between two countries have not improved because a number of issues, including Kashmir, have yet to be resolved.

Prof Luqman Saeed and Shabib Haider Syed from Lahore’s Forman Christian College also spoke at the conference. They presented their analysis on terrorism in the region over the last three decades. Irtaza Hasan and Shahbaz Khan of MOL Pakistan, a Hungary-based oil and gas company, spoke about how Pakistan’s crude oil reserves of 27 billion barrels could be exploited and the country can achieve self-reliance in crude oil. A professor of South Asian History at IoBM, Dr Maria Robotka, spoke about the impact of the political turmoil in Pakistan across South Asia.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.

 

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Reader Comments (6)

  • max
    Dec 20, 2012 - 7:43AM

    Answer to the headline is very straight forward: Ask Kayani.!!! Or read today’s ET and think why Islamabad did not clear gem exhibitors from India, esp when counterparts are always allowed in India. One way ticket does not work and trade does not mean export of terrorists.

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  • Dec 20, 2012 - 3:10PM

    “Khan pointed out that Pakistan and India are two major economies of South Asia and contribute around 80 per cent of the combined gross domestic product of the eight countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.”

    No offence but pakistan is not a major economy,its economy is similar to bangladesh though little more than bangladesh.In south asia except India no other country is a major economy.As far as both contributing 80% is considered is not a fact,India alone contributes 82% of south asian economy and the only country from south asia in G-20 major economies grouping the remaining 18% contributed by rest all other members of south asia including pakistan so by considering pakistan a major economy i think mr asif is insulting pakistan.pakistan should learn to leave independent not braceting with india,China,US,etc.I told only fact trollers plz dont bounce on me.

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  • Alexander
    Dec 20, 2012 - 5:35PM

    Pakistan is NOT a major economy -not even close to Bangladesh. Indias idea of trade is not have nuisance at its western border from a nation that uses religion to create violence. The author should read history -even the last decades-atleast to know trade happens between nations that respect each other and share some values. India and Pakistan may share some history but they do NOT share values. So this trade will have limitations.

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  • Genesis
    Dec 22, 2012 - 10:02PM

    @Alexander:

    ALSO Pakistan’s economy depends on aid and not trade.

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  • Parakram SIngh
    Dec 23, 2012 - 1:17PM

    If i see this improvement as third party PAKINDIA must have a cordial relationship. MAinly in light of Pakistan as Pakistan is a small economy.. if trust develop than they can cut down their military expense and channel it to the education and reform. Regarding India, its view is more China oriented and now a part of G20 group Indians are more willing to play a major role in world politics with China at bay.With security concil permanent member. I would Advice Pakistan to behave practical and do some must awaited reforms for their people. kashmiirs would rather choose to live with the country where they see thier future is secured they wont line up for a nation merely because of religion. when it comes to food , job and future India is big yes. Pakistan should consolidate its fragile states viz. FATA.. balochistan. all is welll God bless both india and pakistan.

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  • huzaifa
    Jan 9, 2013 - 3:19PM

    Unfortunately, nothing of this sort will transpire. If you look at the history of Indo Pak then one come to the conclusion logically that due to following reasons it might never happen:-
    1. Kashmir problem
    2. Water problem ( originated from Kashmir problem)
    3. Imbalanced trade volume.
    4. Hindu Muslim roits in INDIA.
    5. Indian hegemonic designs.
    and in the last again Kashmir problem.
    The vocalist for Amman ki asha may shout while bursting their vocal chords but time and history tells us that after a grudgingly short love affair things culminate at Armies on the border.

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