London: Senior PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif has claimed that “security agencies” of Pakistan and India are blocking the normalisation of bilateral trade ties.
“Distrustful” security agencies are one of the main “blockages” holding back plans to liberalise trade, said Shahbaz, the Punjab Chief Minister and brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Security agencies on both sides need to really understand that in today’s world, a security-led vision is obviously driven by economic security,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.
“Unless you have economic security then you can’t have general security.”
The report said the Sharif brothers, “in common with most mainstream politicians in Pakistan, are impatient for a rapprochement with India” but “the military is far more wary”.
It added that the powerful military “has warned the Sharifs against making rapid concessions, particularly in the run up to India’s general election” this year.
Shahbaz’s remarks came days after Commerce Minister Anand Sharma cancelled a visit to Pakistan for a trade show. Indian officials cited a delay by Pakistan in implementing certain decisions for better trade ties as the reason for the cancellation.
The Chief Minister said disputes over Kashmir, sharing of river waters and the Siachen glacier would only be resolved through “dialogue and imaginative thinking”.
“If we remain hostage to our past, then we will go nowhere,” he said. “We have fought three wars and it brought nothing but devastation and destruction. It brought miseries on both sides. It added more poverty, more unemployment. It solved nothing.”
In a bid to “appease hardline nationalists,” Pakistan dropped efforts to grant India Most Favoured Nation-status, the report said. “In a purely semantic reworking, it has opted instead for the less inflammatory ‘non-discriminatory market access’,” it added.–PTI