Anand Sharma insists enhanced economic engagement is the only way forward for the region

Even as Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Wednesday called for enhanced economic engagement in an environment of peace and stability, a business delegation from Pakistan has cancelled its visit to India planned for the end of this month.

However, Pakistan’s Commerce and Industry Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim is firm on his visit to take part in the Annual Partnership Summit of Trade and Commerce Ministers to be held in Agra from January 27. The 11-member business delegation planning to take part in the Confederation of Indian Industry-organised summit has called off its visit in view of the rising tensions between the two countries.

In New Delhi, Mr. Sharma said that it was for Pakistan to realise where the well-being of its economy lay and asserted that there was scope for economic engagement. “As of now, we have not given any consideration to this matter in a negative sense. However, what has happened [recent brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops] is horrific, it’s unacceptable and highly provocative,” Mr. Sharma told reporters here in reply to questions if he believed that the recent developments along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir could impact bilateral trade ties.

“There is no other way forward for the region as only economic engagement can create peace and stability. Anything which undermines that environment is not conducive,’’ he remarked.

Mr. Sharma demanded that Islamabad take action against those responsible for the brutal killing. “It would be in Pakistan’s own interest, not only for bilateral relations but [also] its global image as a responsible nation state,” he said.

Both Mr. Sharma and Mr. Fahim are expected to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit. Business delegations from the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, Russia and Spain are also taking part in the event.

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