Stating that Pakistan was committed to seeking improvement of relations with India, Pakistan High Commissioner, Salman Bashir strongly asked the India-Pakistan Joint Business Forum to work for a “breakthrough’’ in economic and trade relations between the two nations.

Addressing the members of the India-Pakistan Joint Business Forum here at the end of the two-day meeting, Mr. Bashir said the newly elected Nawaz Sharif government was fully committed to improving ties with India. “The Joint Business Forum should steer the process for achieving ‘breakthrough’ in Pakistan-India economic relations by identifying opportunities, impediments and prescribing solutions. Economic and trade cooperation has to be mutually beneficial and on equitable terms. The private sector should also play its role in positively influencing political and public opinion and in suggesting a pragmatic course for unlocking the collective potential for development,’’ he told the delegates from both sides. Mr. Bashir also emphasised on the importance of resumption of dialogue process.

During the meeting, the India-Pakistan Joint Forum strongly pitched for peace and end to hostilities. The common sentiment was that business and trade should not be held hostage to political developments and large sections of both the nations should not be deprived of economic prosperity due to wrong doings of few miscreants.

The major issues that came up for discussion and further action included connectivity between the two countries. It was felt that it was high time that mobile connectivity was allowed between India and Pakistan and also courier service needs to be started to ensure smooth economic and trade activity. It was also felt that logistics need to be worked out for better handling of trucks and economic traffic at Wagah-Attari border and more land routes should be opened to give a boost to economic activity. “We have agreed to have two bank branches of each other’s banks in India and Pakistan after due clearances. We want business environment to grow and have identified cooperation in the field of petroleum, power, agriculture, textiles and pharmaceuticals. We want Pakistan to announce non-discriminatory access to India,’’ SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and member of the Forum, Vikramjit Singh Sahani said.

Later the Pakistan business delegation led by Syed Yawar Ali and comprising of Senator Ilyas Bilour, Abdul Razak Dawood, Bashir Ali Mohammad, Sikander Mustafa Khan, Shabbir Diwan, and Syed Nadeem Qamar met the Commerce Secretary, S.R. Rao and discussed various issues including imposition of anti-dumping duty on Pakistan products made out of raw cotton and fabrics by Indian customs.