Trade ties with India linked with comprehensive dialogue: Jawad

KARACHI: The greatest stumbling block to the development of South Asia region is the animosity between Pakistan and India, said Ahmad Jawad, former Chairman Standing Committee of FPCCI.

Jawad said despite the offstage meetings between the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and India, a mitigation of hostilities between the two countries is nowhere in sight. The escalation by the Indian side from ‘talks over bullets’ to ‘talks and bullets’ has now reached the stage of ‘disproportionate bombardment’ with high caliber weapons and no desire for talks on the part of the Modi government. Recently Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat threatened that Indian army was ready to call Pakistan’s ‘nuclear bluff’ and violate the border to carry out any operation inside Pakistan.

Even Last week three UN observers narrowly escaped the Indian army’s attack along the LoC in AJK while two civilians were seriously injured in the incident. India is not willing for meaningful talks on Kashmir in return for calm borders and cracking down on anti-India terror groups in Pakistan. Meanwhile there being no end to the harassment of the Pakistan embassy staff in New Delhi, Islamabad has recalled its High Commissioner for talks. The relations between the two countries are continuing to deteriorate.

He said the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would hold its summit in June in Qindao. In case the Indian PM attends the summit he is likely to meet Pakistan’s caretaker PM on the sidelines of the summit. The issue of Pakistan-India relations too is likely to be taken up. Instead of entertaining unrealistic expectations from its allies Pakistan should by now be wiser regarding how China sees some of the militant networks which continue to move freely in the country or are being mainstreamed. The security establishment needs to review its policy about these networks so that it is not short of options in case the issue of Pak-India relations is taken up at the summit.

General elections in India are scheduled for 2019. It would be shortsighted on Modi’s part to continue to ratchet up the anti-Pakistan rhetoric to placate his Hindu nationalist lobby. Riding the tiger might be an exhilarating experience but the consequences are bound to be unpleasant. Statesmanship requires working out a peaceful solution to outstanding problems with neighbouring countries.

Commenting on Bilateral relations, Jawad told bilateral trade ties are linked with comprehensive dialogue. While the process [of comprehensive dialogue] is stalled since long then what is the point to attend the informal meeting? Regardless Pakistan and India are having formal and informal estimated trade worth $5-6 billion, which is considered half formal and half informal. The informal trade largely takes place via Dubai seaport.

Despite we have been seeking the removal of non-trade barriers by India as an essential step to granting it a Most Favoured Nation status. “Regional trade integration is consistent with Pakistan’s thrust to diversify export products and destinations. Aside from China, Pakistan’s direct trade with its neighbours is low” Jawad added. However, revival of trade engagement at the highest level will help build confidence between two countries subject to level playing field and with a open heart.