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Shahbaz Sharif to visit India on Punjab CM’s invite
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
Enhancing trade and commercial links between the two Punjabs will be high on the agenda when Pakistan’s Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, visits India later this week.

Shahbaz was invited by his Indian counterpart Parkash Singh Badal.

Shahbaz, who will be the chief guest at the World Kabaddi Championship final at Ludhiana on Saturday, will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation that will include some key federal ministers and heads of various trade and economic bodies of the Punjab province during the December 12-15 visit.

Prominent among those who will accompany Shahbaz Sharif are: Pakistan’s Minister for Power and Water Khawaja Asif, Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastagir, and Punjab province’s Board of Investment and Trade Chairman Syed Marajib Ali.

Sources said Pakistan PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, who is also part of the delegation, is carrying a letter for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from Nawaz Sharif, renewing his invitation to the Indian PM to visit Pakistan.

Shahbaz Sharif and his delegation are expected to call on Manmohan Singh on Friday. The visitors from across the border are also expected to meet Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

Islamabad is said to be very keen that Manmohan Singh visits Pakistan before the Lok Sabha elections in May.

Nawaz Sharif’s keenness on this score was conveyed to Singh last month too when his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz visited New Delhi for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

Pakistan’s outgoing High Commissioner Salman Bashir has been asked to stay on in New Delhi for some time in view of the visit of Shahbaz, considered the second most powerful figure in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) after the Premier.

After finishing its engagements in the capital, the delegation will travel to Punjab.

Shahbaz and his entourage will visit Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Amritsar. Shahbaz will also visit Jatti Umra, the ancestral village of the Sharifs, in Amritsar district.

The presence of the federal Power Minister in the delegation suggests that Pakistan could revive the proposal for buying 500 MW of electricity from India by laying a transmission line from Punjab into Lahore.

The proposal has been lying in cold storage ever since relations between the two countries nosedived in the wake of killing of Indian soldiers and frequent violations of the ceasefire on the LoC.

Village ready to roll out red carpet

Amritsar: The Tarn Taran district administration has started making preparations for Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to his native village, Jatti Umra. Deputy Commissioner Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal and SSP Rajjit Singh Hundal held a meeting with the villagers and asked them to identify a piece of land for hosting a function to greet the Pak Punjab CM. The approach roads to the village are being re-carpeted. The villagers were upbeat about the forthcoming visit of Sharif. Last year, they were left disappointed as Sharif had cancelled his India visit at the eleventh hour.




India, Pak need to develop trust: Nawaz

Islamabad, December 10
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said Pakistan and India need to develop mutual trust and shed the burden of the past to ensure “safety, security and stability” in the region.

Pakistan, he said, has reached out to India and Afghanistan as part of efforts to turn over a new page with all its neighbours.

“Unfortunately, countries of the region are still not connected. The two largest countries have yet to develop the required level of trust. They have yet to shed the burden of the past and learn to look to the future,” Sharif said.

“The people of Pakistan seek nothing more than peace, both within Pakistan and with all of Pakistan’s neighbours. They want safety, security and stability,” he said in his address to the Asian Parliamentary Assembly here.

“We, on the Pakistani side, have tried to turn a new page with all our neighbours. We are prepared to look at the larger picture and have reached out to Afghanistan and also India.” Sharif said Pakistan’s economy will benefit as it is next to two of the world’s biggest markets, India and China.

Pakistan is also the geographical knot tying three of the most important regions of the world - South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, he added.

Sharif said if Asian countries succeed in using their resources properly and maintain their economic growth‚ they can overcome poverty by 2050. — PTI





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