India positive about economic zones along Pakistan border

May 27th, 2008 - 12:59 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Four days after meeting Pakistan’s new civilian leadership, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday said here that the two sides had discussed “new ideas” for building confidence and responded positively to a suggestion for creating a special economic zone along the border. “A lot of new ideas to build confidence between the two countries were discussed when I met Asif Ali Zardari (co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party that leads the ruling coalition) and Nawaz Sharif (leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N),” Mukherjee said in his first remarks after wrapping up his visit to Islamabad Thursday.

“We have to find out how to implement these ideas,” Mukherjee said on the sidelines of a function to dedicate a site at Maidan Garhi, near Mehrauli, chosen to establish a South Asian university.

“We will definitely explore the possibilities to make some of them a reality,” Mukherjee told reporters when asked what he thought of Zardari’s proposal for a special economic zone along the India-Pakistan border.

“Many of the ideas which are being floated will take shape,” Mukherjee said.

During his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and with the new civilian leadership in Islamabad last week, Mukherjee made a strong pitch for expanding trade and investment between India and Pakistan that would enable the two sides to build confidence and resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to the Chinese example, Mukherjee said although India and China had yet to resolve the boundary dispute between them, that didn’t stop them from expanding trade to $40 billion. He suggested that if India and Pakistan followed the same route, it would benefit people across the border.

In a significant change of attitude, Mukherjee’s economic approach has found favour with Pakistan’s new leadership.

A day after his meeting with Mukherjee, Zardari, who is the driving force behind Pakistan’s ruling coalition, proposed creating economic zones along the India-Pakistan border which would be owned by people of both sides.

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