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Industrialists moot Indo-Pak joint trade office
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Lahore, March 14
Industrialists of India and Pakistan have mooted the idea of setting up a joint trade office at Wagah border to facilitate trade on both sides. The idea was mooted by the president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mian Misbah Rehman.

Extending support to the proposal, the Indian Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said he would try his best for the setting up of such an office. He said not only trade offices, but both countries, especially agriculture experts and scientists of Indian Punjab as well as of Pakistan Punjab, should start joint research projects in agriculture and other areas. He said both countries could benefit from it. He said industrialists of both countries should also think about starting joint ventures.

“I know there are many fears among Pakistani industrialists and the most important among them is that Indian industry would crush Pakistani industry. But most of these fears were without any solid basis. He said, “The areas in which Pakistani industry feel threatened can be identified and some solution can be found.”

“While other nations are marching ahead rapidly, India and Pakistan should be not be left behind in the race,” he added.

“We are strong in the agriculture sector and can help you to achieve better results on this front. And in certain areas such as cotton, you are doing well, and our cotton industry could take advantage of it,” said Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing the jampacked main hall of the Chamber’s complex.

Replying to questions raised by Pakistani industrialists about Kashmir, Baghlihar dam and other ticklish issues, he said all problems between the two countries would be solved in due course. “Let us not give up hope and try our best to promote friendship and peace between the two countries,” he said.

People-to-people contact had improved understanding between two countries on various issue and it was not a meaningless exercise, he added. “In the past 13 months, a great deal has been achieved,” he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the problems of visa etc faced by Pakistani industrialists for visiting India would be resolved.

He said he and his counterpart from Pakistani Punjab, Mr Pervaiz Elahi, had been trying for opening of the border for trade purposes. With the enforcing of the South Asia Free Trade Area agreement next year, the opportunities of trade between India and Pakistan would grow manifold.

Earlier, Mr Rehman, said the opening of trade between the two countries would not only reduce business cost but also cut the shipment period. He said both countries could attain the figure of $ 5 billion in very short period. He said the major worry of the Pakistani industrialists was imbalance of trade between the two countries. While India exported goods worth $300 million to Pakistan, the export to India from this country was only worth $93.7 million.

Industrialists like, Sohail Lashari and Azhar Saeed Butt, said without resolving the Kashmir problem, there were little chances of promoting trader between the two countries. They said the visits by Indians to Pakistan and vice versa would achieve nothing unless the main issues were not addressed, they said.


Unprecedented welcome to Indian delegation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Lahore, March 14
“Ghar aya mera pardesi,” "Asan jan ke meech lee akah vey", "Hava me udta jai” and many more Indian film songs made the scene poignant at the Wagah border where the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and other members of the Indian delegation were given unprecedented reception by the Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parvez Elahi, this morning.

Even Pakistani Rangers, veteran journalists and other elders testified that no other Indian leader had been given such a rousing reception which was given to Capt Amarinder Singh and others.

Hundreds of Pakistani students, mostly girls, waved Indian and Pakistan flags to welcome the guests from across the border while bhangra parties added a lot of colour and excitement to the occasion.

At the entrance on the Pakistani side, a giant board was installed to welcome Capt Amarinder Singh. “Khushamdeed” was written on it in Gurmukhi.

Thousands of banners were placed at vantage points along the route to Lahore. Slogans were written on them in Gurmukhi. Special painters must have been hired for the purpose. The slogans spoke of the growing peace and friendship between Indian and Pakistan.

Capt Amarinder Singh was received at Wagah by Mr Elahi, his Cabinet colleagues and officers. On the way to Lahore, rose petals were showered on Indian guests by villagers and Lahoris. Government officials had brought several gunny bags full of petals.

Tractor and horse story

The tractor gifted by Capt Amarinder Singh to Mr Elahi is yet to reach Lahore and the horse gifted by Mr Elahi to Capt Amarinder Singh is yet to reach Motibagh Palace in Patiala.

A senior official of the Pakistan Punjab government said the horse, Sultan, was still in Lahore and could not be taken to India because of some technical reasons. The horse was taken to the border today to hand it over to Indian officials but it did not happen. Likewise, Capt Amarinder Singh, had brought the tractor at the Wagah border to give it to Mr Elahi. Mr Lal Singh, Power Minister, and Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, adviser to Capt Amarinder Singh, drove the tractor. They waited for about an hour for the green light from the Pakistani authorities to drive the tractor into their territory. However, there was no clearance from the Pakistani customs for its entry.

Officials sources said the authorities concerned might give custom clearance tomorrow.

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