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Initiate trade talks with India for benefiting Pakistan’s economy: business, political voices urge PM Sharif


Islamabad, Apr 25: Prominent Pakistani leaders have urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to initiate trade talks with which would greatly benefit the cash-strapped country's .

In Lahore, Punjab province assembly Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan said on Thursday that enmity with India needs to be ended and talks for the resumption of trade between the two countries should be initiated.

Khan's call for the restoration of trade ties with India came a day after Pakistan's business leaders urged Sharif to initiate trade talks with India during an interactive session in Karachi.

The India-Pakistan bilateral ties nosedived and the trade between the two countries stopped after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of the state of and Kashmir and bifurcating it into Union Territories on August 5, 2019.

India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country.

Last week, a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report said that Pakistan has the highest living cost in all of Asia with a 25 per cent inflation rate and its economy may grow at the fourth lowest pace of 1.9 per cent in the region.

In Lahore, Speaker Khan said, “I will say without any fear that both countries need to initiate trade ties….But I want to talk straight that this enmity between Pakistan and India needs to be ended if we have to move forward.”

“We are neighbours. We should talk to each other as there are several similar things between us. We should promote trade between the two countries,” Khan, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said while talking to journalists in Lahore.

On Wednesday, in the commercial capital, posing tough questions during a meeting with Sharif, Karachi's business community appreciated the prime minister's determination to tackle economic issues but advised him to focus on bringing about political stability to “turn around” the economy.

political stability to “turn around” the economy.

The Prime Minister, during his first visit to Karachi after the February 8 general election, sat down with the business community to find ways to uplift the economy through exports but his resolve was met with apprehensions from industry leaders, who said it was “almost impossible” to do business under the current circumstances, particularly with high energy costs and inconsistent government policies, the Dawn newspaper reported.

After the prime minister's brief speech, the house was opened for a question and answer session, during which business leaders voiced their appreciation for the government's recent moves.

“You have made a few handshakes after taking charge that have produced good results and the progress on the IMF deal is one of them,” said Arif Habib, the chief of Arif Habib Group – a capital market giant.

The business leaders also asked the prime minister to initiate trade talks with India, the Dawn report added.

“I suggest you do a few more handshakes. One of them is regarding trade with India, which would greatly benefit our economy. Second, you should also (patch up) with a resident of Adiala Jail (a reference to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan). Try to fix things at that level as well and I believe that you can do it,” Habib said.

Prime Minister Sharif avoided responding directly to the questions aimed at political stability, but claimed to have noted down Habib's proposals for economic growth and assured him that he would soon invite businessmen from all across the country to Islamabad and sit with them “till all the issues are resolved”.

Sharif said the meeting was an attempt to listen to the “brilliant minds of business, absorb what they say and put it into action” for a comprehensive economic growth roadmap.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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