‘Trade best bet for peace between India, Pakistan’

April 14th, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Muhammad Najeeb
Hasanabdal (Pakistan), April 14 (IANS) Visiting pilgrims from India say trade with Pakistan can be the best bet for lasting peace between the two neighbours. “We are happy that trade is increasing between India and Pakistan,” said Balbir Sigh, president of Indian National Forum and head of the Indian Sikh delegation that is in Pakistan for Baisakhi celebrations.

“But still there are many areas in which both sides can increase cross-border trade and this would be a big step towards peace in the region,” Singh told IANS.

More than 20,000 pilgrims from all over the world, including 3,000 from India, visited Pakistan to participate in the annual Baisakhi Mela (spring festival) in Panja Sahib Sikh shrine here, some 60 km from Islamabad.

Panja Sahib Gurudwara attracts thousands of Sikh devotees from all over the world every year April 13 to celebrate the festival.

“Vegetables and fruits are expensive in Pakistan as compared to India, and we can offer such commodities at very reasonable rates,” Singh said.

He said that the Indian traders were happy that business relations between the two countries were increasing.

“Believe me there is no other confidence building measure like this (trade), and if we develop good business relations we can move fast towards peace not only between the two countries but in the region,” Singh said.

He hoped that the new democratic government in Pakistan would usher in a new era of good neighbourly relations with India.

“I think the relationship between the two countries will move ahead with the planned visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Surjit Singh, an Indian woman from Delhi who visited Pakistan for the first time, said she was impressed by the development of Pakistan and to see the freedom that women have here.

“I never thought the women in Pakistan can shop and with such freedom…it’s really impressive, especially when I saw young women at the immigration desk,” Surjit told IANS.

“I talked to many ladies here on my way to Hasanabdal from Lahore and all were very friendly and want friendly relations with India,” she said.

She added that it was high time governments in both countries take this issue seriously.

Shair Badal Singh, a businessman from Amirtsar, said the business community in India was looking for opportunities to trade with Pakistan.

“This is sad that we are trading with the whole of the world, and there are certain restriction between the two countries.

“We are happy that now India is importing cement from Pakistan and likewise we are looking forward to send building material like steel to Pakistan.”

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