Maleeha Lodhi stresses free but fair mutual trade; Shahid Malik wants political harmony for sustainable peace process; Sharat Sabharwal hopes trade will enhance mutual trust
LAHORE: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday said India should take daring steps for sustainable peace in the region and that all issues including the Kashmir dispute should be resolved through talks.
She was addressing the concluding session on the first day of Dividends, the second Aman Ki Asha Indo-Pak Economic Conference, being held under the aegis of the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India at a local hotel here.
Khar said India and Pakistan should avoid repeating mistakes of harbouring hostilities during the past 60 years and instead open business and trade links for moving ahead towards resolving bilateral core issues.
Stressing continuation of dialogue process between India and Pakistan, she said Pakistan attached great significance to dialogue for solution to all core issues between the two sides.The minister said trade would also help dilute bitterness between the two neighbours and benefit the people of the region.
"India and Pakistan need to start looking at each other as a common species of the region and address all core issues through dialogue," she added. She said both sides should learn lessons from past and look forward for safeguarding interests of the people of the region.
Khar said Pakistan and India needed to make progress over all important issues including Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek to get a place where both sides could have confidence in each other.
Citing the example of Siachen dispute, she said by 1989, the prime ministers of both countries had agreed to find a comprehensive solution to the issue but, she regretted that the problem was still unsolved. "It shows that we have lost 23 years of an opportunity," she added.The minister said none of the issues was more important for Pakistan than Kashmir, but solution to all issues should be found through dialogue.
She said 'hardliners' were present on both sides of the border and Pakistan and India would have to decide how to move on together in the future.The former ambassador to the US and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, who was chairing the concluding fourth session, said in her address that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) concluded soon after independence envisaged that Pakistan and India could constitute customs union. She said the conference was celebrating the grant of the most favoured nation (MFN) status to each other, in other words an agreement simply not to discriminate against one another, was a measure of both the reversal in the two nation's trade relationship in the six decades after independence and of how far, 'we still have to go to achieve the promise of trade'.
She claimed the benefits of mutual trade between neighbours were even more pronounced and compelling. She stated if all that happened was the bi-lateralisation of current indirect trade the dollar volume of Pakistan-India trade could be quadrupled. She stressed the trade should be free but it should also be fair. She was of the view that the trade liberalisation and expansion could be sustained only if it was fair, balanced and mutually beneficial. "At present, bilateral trade is composed of 15 percent of exports from Pakistan and 85 percent from India. A conscious effort will be required to ensure greater equity in trade flows," she added.
Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik claimed the bilateral trade between Pakistan and India started immediately after partition, but it faced gradual deterioration and gradually closed due to tense and hostile relationships. He opined that the sustainability in the peace process could only be possible due to political harmony.
Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal, in his keynote address, reiterated the commitment of the Indian government as envisaged by Indian premier Manmohan Sing in his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart that the time had come to write a new chapter in the history of the Indo-Pakistan relationship. He claimed the growing trade and economic linkages between the two countries besides contributing to economic progress and wellbeing of people on both sides would also enhance mutual trust.
Agencies add: Talking to the media later, Hina Khar said India and Pakistan should sit together to find a rightful solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. She said a solution to the issue would open new avenues to move ahead.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
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