ISLAMABAD: India has never stopped trade ties with Pakistan and wants to move towards normalization of trade ties, a senior Indian diplomat here said, adding that today’s diplomacy is focused on tourism, trade and technology because “money speaks its own language”.
The Dawn newspaper reported that Indian Deputy Ambassador to Pakistan Suresh Kumar made these comments while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday.
“India has always wanted better relations with Pakistan because our geography cannot be changed,” he said.
“We want to move towards normal relations with Pakistan. We are not stopping trade with Pakistan because Pakistan did it,” he said.
“It is good to see how we can change our problems and circumstances,” said Mr Kumar.
In 2019, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India and expelled its high commissioner in Islamabad after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
India says it wants normal neighborly relations with Pakistan, while insisting that Islamabad has the responsibility to create an environment free of terrorism and hostility.
Trade with Pakistan stood at USD 329.26 million in 2020-21 and USD 830.58 million in 2019-20, according to the data.
He admitted that the number of visas issued by the Indian embassy to Pakistanis had been reduced during the Covid pandemic. However, he stressed that the number had now increased with 30,000 visas being issued each year, which he said was a “huge number”.
Mr Kumar said the Indian government was issuing medical and sports visas to Pakistanis.
Gone are the days when diplomacy focused on compiling political statements, he said. Today’s diplomacy revolves around tourism, trade and technology because “money speaks its own language,” he said.
India currently trades US$120 billion with China, with the balance of trade in China’s favor, asserting that imports are “not always wrong, and there are benefits”.
Mr. Kumar said that intellectual property has become more important than physical property. “By sitting in faraway countries and manufacturing in other countries, Europe makes money from intellectual property,” he said. “Universities in Europe focus on technology.” He said transit trade is very important as Central Asia is a big market and India needs access to it. India also needed access to Central Asia.
He said that India is going to become the largest economic country. “Our service sector has grown tremendously and now we are focusing on manufacturing like automobile and electronics manufacturing,” he said.
LCCI President Kashib Anwar said that improving economic relations between India and Pakistan is generally considered to be a complex issue that requires addressing a range of political, economic and social factors.
“But the primary step to improve economic relations between India and Pakistan is to improve trade relations. This will bring substantial economic benefits to both countries equally,” he said.