News / Asia

Optimism Ahead of India-Pakistan Trade Talks

FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said it believes efforts to improve trade links with India can eventually become a major “confidence-building” step toward normalizing bilateral relations. 
 
Pakistan and India have made considerable progress in the last three years on normalizing trade ties, including signing several agreements to facilitate cross-border business contacts to increase annual bilateral trade, which currently stands at around 2.6 billion dollars. 
 
However, military tensions and ensuing skirmishes along the disputed Kashmir border during most of the previous year stalled the trade liberalization process.
 
The tensions have now subsided following a long-awaited meeting in December between top military commanders of the two countries, where they agreed to ensure peace on borders and respect a mutual cease-fire in Kashmir.
 
All eyes are now set on Saturday’s meeting in New Delhi between Indian and Pakistani commerce ministers. The two sides are expected to refocus fresh proposals to speed up the trade liberalization process.
 
Ahead of his talks with the Indian counterpart Anand Sharma, Pakistani trade minister Khurrum Dastgir Khan called for both sides to prevent mutual suspicion and distrust from denying both nations’ people the opportunity to economically grow and prosper.
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.
x
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.

“We should have a relationship which is not dependent upon news of the day. We should have a relationship as neighbors, which is uninterrupted and uninterruptable. So, yes, there will be tensions there will be certain issues on both sides. But should that completely derail a relationship and we seal off the two people from each other and not benefit from each other’s economies?" asked Khan.
 
Islamabad has long linked restoration of full trade ties with New Delhi to progress in a decade-old wide-ranging peace dialogue which is aimed at settling bilateral disputes, including the Kashmir conflict. 
 
India insists that wider cooperation in areas such as trade and the economy should not wait for political differences to be settled. 
 
Minister Khan said he hopes increased trade links could clear the way for progress on political issues dividing the two countries.
 
“It has been a disappointment, let me just say, [that] in all these years of composite dialogue since 2004 that no substantial progress has been made by both countries [on political issues]... Ultimately the political side has to come in parallel to [how rapidly we move on the trade side], otherwise trade will reach a certain level and then stop. Because to go beyond that level will require investment and investment will not happen unless investors [in both countries] have certain confidence that these are two countries not going to go to war,” said Khan.
 
The minister urged India to ease visa restrictions for businessmen to facilitate frequent travel and allow them to assess investment opportunities in each other’s countries. He criticized the strict visa regime as the “greatest non-tariff trade barrier."
 
Khan said that while some sectors in Pakistan, including agriculture, fear opening up trade with India could undermine their business, many others will hugely benefit from it.   
 
“We believe that opening up trade with India, however gradual it might eventually turn out to be, will be a huge boon for Pakistan in terms of industrial growth, in terms of job creation,” said Khan.
 
Since taking charge in June, Prime Minister Sharif’s government is said to have decided to “de-link” the issue of trade relations with India from the progress on the slow-moving peace dialogue.
 
While officials have yet to confirm it, the reported shift in Pakistan’s traditional stand on normalizing ties with India, some say, could be the outcome of enormous challenges facing the new government as it tries to revive national economy.

You May Like

Gun Nation

This is who America's gun owners are More

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs