Hoping that the forthcoming visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna would lead to a liberal visa regime agreement, Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, on Tuesday, said India and Pakistan would soon ink three agreements in the areas of customs co-operation, mutual recognition of standards and redressal of trade issues to give a fillip to economic activity.
Addressing a Pakistani Parliamentary delegation at FICCI’s first India-Pakistan Parliamentary Dialogue, Mr. Sharma said India was ready to grant multi-entry and multi-city visas to businessmen from Pakistan. “I am only hoping that the agreement is signed soon. Mr. Krishna is visiting Pakistan this week-end, and, hopefully, something will happen,” he remarked.
Mr. Sharma said there was a need to also open up more land routes to allow more people-to-people exchange and smooth entry and exit of business community from both nations. “The agreements will be signed soon. It is a matter of weeks, maximum,” he added.
“We will soon be coming out with detailed clarification and guidelines on granting permission to Indian business houses and individuals to invest in Pakistan. There were some doubts, whether the Indian industry is allowed to invest or not. The answer is yes. It is just a procedural formality. I have been informed that it is getting addressed. It is a just a matter of days. So, both ways investment flow will start,” he said. India recently allowed Pakistan nationals and companies to invest in India through the semi-automatic approval route. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stood at $2.7 billion in 2010-11.
Haider Abbas Rizvi, a member of Pakistan National Assembly, said that increase in trade and investment would help both sides to resolve other matters. “Our relationship should not become hostage to any issue or incident. Our dialogue process should be irrevocable. We have to ensure this in the future,” Mr. Rizvi.