India never stopped trade ties with Pakistan: top Indian diplomat

The trade volume with Pakistan was $329.26 million in 2020-21 and $830.58 million in 2019-20.


A senior Indian diplomat said that India has never stopped trade relations with Pakistan and wants to push for normalization of commercial relations, stressing that today’s diplomacy is focused on tourism, trade and technology because “money speaks its own language”.

Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan Suresh Kumar made the remarks during a speech at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday, Dawn reported.

“India has always wanted better relations with Pakistan because we cannot change our geography,” he said.

“We want normal relations with Pakistan. We have not stopped trade with Pakistan either, because Pakistan does it,” he said.

“It’s better to see how we change our problems and circumstances,” Mr Kumar said.

In 2019, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India and expelled Pakistan’s high commissioner in Islamabad after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

India has always insisted that it wants normal good-neighbourly relations with Pakistan, while insisting that Islamabad has a responsibility to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such engagement.

The data showed that trade with Pakistan stood at $329.26 million in 2020-21 and $830.58 million in 2019-20.

He agreed that the number of visas issued by Indian embassies to Pakistanis has dropped during the Covid pandemic. However, he insisted the number had now increased, with 30,000 visas being issued each year, which he said was a “huge number”.

Mr Kumar said the Indian government also issued medical and sports visas to Pakistanis.

Gone are the days when diplomacy used to focus on compiling political reports, he said. Today’s diplomacy revolves around tourism, trade and technology, “because money speaks its own language,” he said.

India’s current trade with China stands at $120 billion, with the trade balance being against China, he said, emphasizing that imports “are not always wrong, there are advantages”.

Mr Kumar said intellectual property has become more important than tangible property. “By sitting in distant countries and manufacturing in other countries, Europe is making money from intellectual property,” he said. “Universities in Europe are focused on technology.” Transit trade is extremely important, he said, because Central Asia is a big market and India needs access to it. Likewise, Central Asia also needs access to India.

He said India was becoming one of the largest economies. “Our service industry has grown rapidly, and now we’re focusing on manufacturing, such as car and electronics manufacturing,” he said.

LCCI chairman Kashif Anwar said improving economic relations between India and Pakistan is widely considered to be a complex issue that requires addressing a range of political, economic and social factors.

“But we believe that the first step to improve India-Pakistan economic relations is to normalize trade relations. This will bring considerable economic benefits to both countries on average,” he said.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)

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