Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday said he was confident that the next Indian government would respond to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “region first” vision and “peace for development” policy.
He expressed confidence that the two countries would be able to work together to enhance trade and ease visa restrictions after the new government assumed power.
Asked to comment on Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s description of Kashmir as the jugular vein of the country, Basit said: “We have been talking about that issue. So, to say that there is no dispute, I think, is unrealistic and I think there are so many other disputes. Jammu and Kashmir is a core dispute between our two countries.”
“Let’s hope that we work together to resolve all our issues. Unless we are willing to resolve our issues, it will continue to be very difficult to create an atmosphere of irreversible trust between our two countries,” he said.
About the opening of a visa facility in Amritsar as demanded by some businessmen here, he said: “Visa is one area where we are working with the Indian government, to see as to how this can be further liberalised.
Unless we create opportunities for our two peoples to meet each other more freely, it would continue to be rather difficult to build a normal relation between the two countries,” Basit said.
“We must persevere to create an environment of bonhomie and the time has come to turn a new leaf and dispense with the paradigm of hostility,” he added.
He also hoped that two-way trade would get a boost once a new government assumed office in Delhi.
“I think trade is part of our overall dialogue process and we have come a long way in that context. Currently our bilateral trade is 2.6 billion US dollars. One hopes that as we move forward, we engage with each other and the trade process will get a further boost when the new government takes over.”
The High Commissioner was speaking after inaugurating “The Pakistan Show” organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Amritsar.