Pak’s plan panel seeks India help, backs gas pipeline (Lead)

June 24th, 2008 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Pakistan has sought India’s help in various fields such as power, agriculture, e-governance and infrastructure, and supported the $7.4 billion India-Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. A high-level delegation led by Pakistan’s Planning Commission deputy chairman Salman Faruqui discussed the roadmap for manifold cooperation with Indian planners here Tuesday.

“We are looking forward to a greater co-operation with India in areas like agriculture, power, infrastructure, rural development, water resources management,” Faruqui told reporters after a 90-minute deliberation with his Indian counterpart Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

He said if necessary, Pakistan and India would together approach the global oil producers to contain zooming oil prices and increase supply.

India’s Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Sunday told a summit of oil producers and consumers summit in Jeddah that there should be a guarantee on the high- and lower-end prices of oil in the market.

In Delhi, officials from the two sides made presentations, followed by detailed discussions to identify areas where economic collaboration could be enhanced.

During the deliberations, Ahluwalia said achieving rapid growth is the biggest challenge in the region. “Though we need to keep up the growth momentum, efforts must be made for inclusive growth,” he said.

Ahluwalia also told the visiting delegation that agriculture, rural development, and quality education were some of the key areas of focus for the Indian government.

The Pakistani delegation was in Mumbai Monday, where it met government officials and representatives of India’s major industrial houses.

The Pakistani delegation included, among others, water and power secretary M. Ismail Qureshi, commerce secretary Syed Asif Shah, member of National Assembly Azeem Daultana, and Syed Mustafa Kamal, chief of Karachi administration.

The delegation, the first one since a democratic government resumed office in Islamabad, is seen as the beginning of a new thaw in the countries’ bilateral relationship.

Given the significance of gas pipeline project, Faruqui said: “We are keen to see the pipeline project through. We believe that India is in the forefront on this issue.”

“If the gas pipeline comes up, the project benefits both India and Pakistan,” he said.

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