High Commissioner Salman Bashir calls for breakthrough

Stating that Islamabad is committed to improvement of relations with New Delhi, Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir has urged the India-Pakistan Joint Business Forum to work for a “breakthrough” in economic and trade relations.

Addressing the Forum at the end of the two-day meeting here on Friday, Mr. Bashir said the newly elected Nawaz Sharif government was fully committed to improving ties with India.

The Forum should identify opportunities for better economic ties, help remove impediments and prescribe 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 delegates from both sides.

Mr. Bashir also emphasised the importance of resumption of dialogue.

The Forum pitched for peace and an end to hostilities. The common sentiment was that business and trade should not be held hostage to political developments and that both nations should not be deprived of economic prosperity due to wrongdoings of a few miscreants.

It was high time that mobile connectivity was allowed between India and Pakistan, and courier service should be started to ensure smooth economic and trade activity, the meeting said. Logistics needed to be worked out for better handling of trucks and economic traffic at the Wagah-Attari border and more land routes opened to give a boost to economic activity.

“We have agreed to have two 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 fields of petroleum, power, agriculture, textiles and pharmaceuticals. We want Pakistan to announce non-discriminatory access to India,” said SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and Forum member Vikramjit Singh Sahani.

Later the Pakistan business delegation, led by Syed Yawar Ali, met Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao and discussed various issues including imposition of an anti-dumping duty by Indian customs on Pakistan products made out of raw cotton and fabrics.

The delegation included Senator Ilyas Bilour, Abdul Razak Dawood, Bashir Ali Mohammad, Sikander Mustafa Khan, Shabbir Diwan and Syed Nadeem Qamar.