PTI Islamabad, Pakistan
Feb 07, 2019, 02.42 PM
There is room for a leap forward in trade between India and Pakistan in an atmosphere free of distrust and violence, India's High Commissioner in Islamabad has said, insisting that humanitarian and trade exchanges between the two countries must continue despite "roadblocks".
India follows a neighbourhood first policy to engage for mutual benefit with its neighbours and thus its relationship with Pakistan is of key importance, High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria wrote in an article for Diplomatic News Agency (DNA) and Centreline journal, which is a sister publication of DNA.
"It is uniquely challenging. Both countries share deep historical, cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic bonds. They face similar economic challenges", he said.
Bisaria said despite "roadblocks", humanitarian and trade exchanges between the two countries must continue.
The Indo-Pak ties strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists in 2016 and India's surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The ties were further nose-dived in 2017 with no bilateral talks taking place between them.
India has been maintaining that terror and talks cannot go together.
India remains a popular destination for medical tourists from Pakistan while thousands of members of divided families visit each other. According to a recent World Bank report, trade potential between the two countries stands at USD 37 billion per annum, he said.
"Our common enemies remain poverty, illiteracy and disease and not each other," Bisaria said, adding in the long run only sustained peace and shared progress will allow India and Pakistan to focus better on their domestic objectives of prosperity.
He further said while the present trade between the two countries stands at around USD 2 billion, there is room for a leap forward once barriers are broken, in an atmosphere free of distrust and violence.
Bisaria said that humanitarian initiatives occupy an important place in building trust between the two countries and the Kartarpur Corridor is one such initiative.
To commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019, the two countries have agreed to build a 'corridor of faith', with modern facilities for smooth visits of Sikh pilgrims from India to the holy shrine at Kartarpur Sahib.
"I am certain this vision will drive the relationship between India and Pakistan," he said.
"It is possible to achieve inclusive economic growth, without sacrificing democracy and diversity, without compromising on the values of pluralism and tolerance, which are the core values of our society," said Bisaria.
Bisaria said despite 'roadblocks', humanitarian and trade exchanges between the two countries must continue.