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Pak keen to boost trade between two Punjabs
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Pakistan today expressed its keenness to promote trade between the two Punjabs in the larger interest of consolidating economic links with India. “There are 3-4 (Punjab-specific) projects which are under consideration, including the import of gas and electricity,” Pakistan’s new High Commissioner Abdul Basit told The Tribune on the sidelines of a function at the Jamia Millia Islamia here.

The two countries have for the past one year been discussing a proposal for the supply of 500 MW of electricity to Pakistan from the Patti grid in India. The High Commissioner said the two countries were trying to resolve the pricing issue. Various proposals for promoting bilateral trade would be discussed at length once the new government takes charge in New Delhi, he added. Asked how he looked at the prospects of a Narendra Modi-led government assuming office after the Lok Sabha elections, Basit said: “Naturally, there is anxiety in Pakistan. Since there is perceived to be a Modi wave, like Muslims here, people in Pakistan too have some ambivalence. The Gujarat riots are still fresh in their minds.”

However, Islamabad would try to reach out as quickly as possible to any government that comes to power in India.

Earlier, delivering a talk on “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Challenges and Priorities,” he said Pakistan was committed to granting the NDMA (Non-Discriminatory Market Access --- a new term coined by Islamabad to replace MFN) status to India. He recalled that the NDMA status was proposed to be accorded last month but by then the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections had already been announced. Islamabad had some discussion with India on the issue. The sense was that the proposal for the NDMA status should be deferred for some time since any such move in the midst of the Lok Sabha elections would have to go to the Election Commission as the model code of conduct had already come into force.

The Pakistani envoy said it was up to India to decide whether it wanted to resolve the issue under the Simla pact or through mediation. 





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