Pak-India relations: PM vows to pursue policy of détente

Published: June 30, 2013
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: As hopes swell for a lasting period of détente between Pakistan and India, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signalled his willingness to pick up the process of normalising relations with India from where it was left off when he was ousted from power in 1999.

Chairing the first meeting of Pak-India Joint Business Council (PIJBC) since the country’s landmark democratic transition, the prime minister said his government will pursue the same policies in this regard as the ones he initiated during his previous stint as premier.

“It is reassuring that both sides are sitting together and talking to each other,” the premier told representatives of trade groups from the two countries. At the same time he expressed satisfaction over the visit of Indian business delegates under the auspices of PIJBC.

The prime minister, according to some delegates, also volunteered to personally deal with assignments aimed at restoring his country’s bilateral ties with India.

Earlier, Indian representatives drew the prime minister’s attention towards the trade barriers existing between the two countries , saying these were hindering businessmen from either side of the border.

One of the members pointed out that despite the fact that Pakistan and India had signed three agreements pertaining to customs cooperation and mutual recognition and compensation of complaints, legal formalities to implement them were still pending. Other members drew attention towards hindrances caused by allowing only 140 commodities to be traded through the Wagah-Attari land route.

In response, Premier Nawaz assured Indian representatives that he would do his utmost to remove the hurdles in the way of business development between the two countries.

They quoted him as saying that he would “personally deal with assignments aimed at restoring Pakistan’s bilateral ties with its neighbours”. “I deem it my prime responsibility and that is why I am personally looking after the defence and foreign affairs portfolios.”

Meanwhile, Nawaz drew the Indian delegation’s attention towards Pakistan’s energy need. “We are facing an acute power shortage … any assistance in this sector will us address the issue,” he maintained. The premier told the businessmen that he had already directed Water and Power Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif to visit India and explore areas of potential cooperation in this regard.

Indian members of PIJBC noted that India, since it faced similar problems as Pakistan, could provide much assistance in the fields of medical science, higher education and vocational training.

The meeting also discussed non-discriminatory market access and agreed that industrialists from both countries should be provided a level-playing field.

PM Nawaz meets new Chinese envoy

On Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz met newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong and stressed that Pakistan’s relationship with China was centred on mutual cooperation and was not aimed at conspiring against any other country.

Welcoming Weidong’s appointment, he said Pakistan is committed to take its relationship with China to an even higher level and greatly values its economic support and cooperation. He added that he looked forward to his visit to China in the first week of July.

Later, while meeting a visiting delegation of Chinese media persons, Prime Minister Nawaz conveyed his deepest condolences to the families of the trekkers killed in the attack at Nanga Parbat and the Chinese government and people. He vowed to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice very soon and assured that the government will take all possible efforts to ensure such a tragedy will never occur in the future.

Meanwhile, the premier said the envisaged Pak-China Trade Corridor would open vistas of development and prosperity to the around 3 billion people of the region. About handing over Gwadar port to China, he said the project was the ‘hallmark’ the two countries’ strategic partnership.

Talking about his upcoming visit, he said he had established a high-level task force to explore avenues to enhance economic cooperation with China.

“We want to cooperate with each other in several fields, including energy and infrastructure,” he maintained, adding, “I think if all these initiatives materialise, our trade volume will cross hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Rukhshan Haroon
    Jun 30, 2013 - 10:41AM

    We couldn’t ease the tensions or all those strained relations between the Muslims of our own nation, and are, now, planning to develop it along the Indians with whom we are in an antagonistic relationship ever since. Seriously?

    Recommend

  • Well Wisher
    Jun 30, 2013 - 11:12AM

    Be careful, adopt a step-by-step approach. Probe, then move forward.

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  • Gp65
    Jun 30, 2013 - 11:30AM

    Sir everyone in India wants peace but frankly actions speak louder than words.let us review actions of the last few years
    26/11 happened and your law enforcement has made no attempt to even identify its planners let alone prosecute them
    – there are hate speeches against India given by a gentleman whose organization is given millions of rupees in the Punjab budget and oh by the way the CM who did that was your brother
    – just a few months back, the Pakistani parliament where your party had significant representation passed a unanimous resolution against the death sentence of an Indian terrorist convicted of trying to attack the Indian parliament while in session
    – those confidence building measures which are agreed with India are not followed through on Pakistan’s end even after India has followed through on it’s commitment
    – repeated lies are perpetuated throughout the country that India is stealing your water though India has honoured the IWT even during wars and Pakistan has ,oat every single case where it took India to a neutral international tribunal for supposed beach of the treaty.

    Your own track record of reining your military in while you are pursuing peace is not very reassuring either. So please pardon us if we are a tad cynical at this moment. Recommend

  • Insaan
    Jun 30, 2013 - 4:06PM

    @Well Wisher:
    He wants to go back.. we don’t want another Kargil. Pakistanis not only have problems with India, they still are playing Taliban in Afghanistan. Taliban have already opened in office in Doha which calls itself representative of “Emirates of Islamic Afghanistan”.

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  • Polpot
    Jun 30, 2013 - 4:30PM

    @Gp65: KARGIL
    ++++++++++++++++
    Madam, your kindness to the Pakis reflects in not including the above words in your submission!.

    Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 30, 2013 - 4:44PM

    @Gp65:

    Could not have put it better. Its better to call a spade a spade, than to follow the charade that GOP/Army offers on regular basis.
    Why bother having any relationship at all ?
    Let Pakistan get on with trying to solve their own internal issues first before attempting to patronising their neighbours as they are all aware of the reality.
    God knows as to how they are going to solve the mess in their own home, and its on many fronts from economy to social issues.

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  • V. C. Bhutani
    Jun 30, 2013 - 9:52PM

    This report is wholly positive. It seems there is possibility that trade relations between India and Pakistan may improve and their trade may expand. The two sides shall attend to the details of impediments on both sides that need to be removed. With good will and good intentions on both sides, much can be achieved.
    There is no reference here to other questions in the Pakistan–India relationship. About these perhaps we can talk on some other occasion.
    V. C. Bhutani, Edinburgh, 30 Jun 2013, 1750 GMT

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