Metro, power draw Pakistan to India

June 23rd, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

By Manish Chand
New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) In a sign of the changing nature of bilateral ties, Pakistan is now turning to India for cooperation in the power sector and is seeking to pick up some tips on building its own metro railway. Deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of Pakistan (PCOP) Salman Farooqi, currently in India on a week-long visit, met heads of leading power companies, including Tata Power and Essar Group, over the last two days in Mumbai.

He also visited Tata Power’s coal-based power plant at Trombay. Keen to tap the Indian expertise in renewable energy, he also interacted with managers of Southern Wind Farm Limited in Mumbai.

Farooqi, who is heading a six-member delegation comprising top officials and experts in agriculture, power and transport sectors, will meet his Indian counterpart Montek Singh Ahluwalia in New Delhi Tuesday.

He will meet officials of the Power Grid Corporation of India.

Nazim (chief) of City District Government of Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal and Director General Karachi Mass Transit Communication Malik Zaheer-ul-Islam will join Farooqi’s delegation Wednesday.

“Pakistani officials will also interact with top officials of the Delhi Metro and may go for a ride as well,” Pakistani diplomatic sources told IANS.

Visiting Pakistanis have often expressed admiration for the Delhi Metro even as the country plans to have its own metro in crowded cities like Karachi and Lahore.

“The visit is aimed at building stronger economic ties between the two countries and will enable Pakistan to learn from the Indian experience in planning and power sector,” sources said.

Farooqi, who enjoys the rank of a federal minister, began his visit to India from Mumbai Saturday. Farooqi’s visit sets a positive tone for the forthcoming four-day visit of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmoood Qureshi that begins Friday.

Expanding economic relationship between the two neighbours will figure prominently in discussions between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart.

Announcing Qureshi’s visit Monday, the Indian foreign office said after talks with Mukherjee Friday, the Pakistan foreign minister will also visit Jaipur, Ajmer and Chandigarh.

During his visit to Islamabad last month, Mukherjee had made a forceful pitch for scaling up trade and investment between the two countries that have languished due to trust deficit between them in the past.

Refreshingly, the new civilian leadership in Pakistan has struck an upbeat note on improving economic ties. Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party which leads the ruling coalition, has even proposed special economic zones along the India-Pakistan border and joint production of power that both countries are woefully short of.

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