Snehesh Alex Philip
Islamabad: Liberalisation of trade with India would bring prices down in Pakistan and gradually create conducive ambiance to bilaterally tackle more complex issues like Kashmir, the European Union said Sunday.
Lauding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s initiative to bolster trade with India as “very positive”, EU Ambassador in Islamabad Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said there was more “scope for regional trade” for Pakistan than with the outside world and the potential “is far greater with India”.
There was a “very clear intention by the government and the prime minister personally to try to move forward on trade liberalisation with India”, which will bring the prices of commodities down.
The “consumers will benefit” from increase in trading relations between the two nuclear capable neighbours, Lars-Gunnar said in an interview to state-run APP news agency.
He said there would be more competition and “some companies and industries would feel exposed if they were to open up trade with India”, however some vulnerable sectors of the Pakistan economy could be given protection by the government.
EU closely follow developments in India-Pakistan relations and it welcomed that there has been some progress in improving bilateral ties in the last couple of years.
“It is unfortunate that the composite dialogue is stalled” said EU envoy and hoped after coming elections in India “the common wisdom is that India will review its policies also towards Pakistan”.
“Our experience in the European Union has been to have a gradual process whereby, for instance, start opening up trade, start also opening up possibilities to travel more freely,” said the ambassador.
“Visa liberalisation, business to business contacts, people to people contacts in general will help build a greater understanding and also deal with some of the animosities, prejudices,” between Pakistan and India, he said.
When asked if an incident on the Line of Control (LoC) could impact trade between Islamabad and New Delhi, the EU ambassador said whenever there was an incident “the whole relationship suffers”.
But there seemed to be a willingness on both sides to overcome this tension.
“When it comes to the Kashmir issue, I personally think that if you start trying to resolve the whole Kashmir conundrum, this is very difficult.”
“Whenever something goes wrong in Kashmir, India would tend to point the finger to Pakistan and Pakistan would point the finger against India,” he said.— PTI