‘Future of Afghanistan is also a core issue’

Asserting that peace with India was the sentiment of national Parliament, Pakistan said India needs to move forward on the composite dialogue and address contentious topics such as Sir Creek, Siachen and Kashmir disputes to ensure economic and trade partnership between the two nations, which is the desire of the people on both sides, moves on fast track.

Talking to a group of journalists from India on Thursday during the 8th edition of Pakistan Trade Expo here, Minister of State for Commerce and Privatisation, Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan said the future of Afghanistan was also very close to the heart of people of Pakistan and the Nawaz Sharif government and India needs to engage more with Pakistan on the issue in view of the withdrawal of U.S.-led allied forces from that country next year.

“If India takes a single step on addressing the outstanding issues and starts the political dialogue with full vigour, we will take five steps to give a big boost to trade. Both the political dialogue and trade relations have to move in a parallel manner. We know that the economic relationship has hit a roadblock. Peace with India has been the sentiment of the new Parliament of Pakistan and the Nawaz Sharif government… and we should not allow this golden opportunity slip away,” Mr. Khan said.

He said talking peace with India was a very sensitive issue in Pakistan and the composite dialogue has to show a positive progress for trade to grow which will throw up immense opportunities for businesses from both sides. “We expect positive outcome from Mr. Sharif and Dr. Singh’s meeting in New York on September 29. But a firm dialogue can only be expected after the installation of a new government in India after the 2014 elections,” he added.

Stating that trade could act as a cushion at times when political developments and differences between the two countries threaten to derail the dialogue, Mr. Khan said time had come for both to show their people that relationship could move forward under any circumstances. “When a new visa regime is put in force, then it should be honoured and agreements should not be put in abeyance or suspended under pressure at the eleventh hour,” he said referring to the reversal of the liberal visa policy after the incidents on the LoC this year.

India needs to move forward on composite dialogue for economic partnership and peace to blossom; future of Afghanistan also core issue.