Lahore/Chandigarh, November 6, 2012: The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today turned a major leaf in the history Indo-Pak relations by agreeing to the proposal of Eastern Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for constituting Joint Business Committee of both countries. He announced the first meeting of Committee constituting politicians, industrialists, Traders, Progressive Farmers besides experts at Amritsar in the first week of December. Accepting the request of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Badal, Eastern Punjab Chief Minister Sharif consented to be the Chief Guest in the Joint Business Committee, when he would come to be the Chief Guest in the finals of third edition of World Kabaddi Cup.
Addressing the Pakistan-India Business Round Table organized by Pakistan Board of Investment and Trade, where top industrialists of both the countries shared their points, Badal said that economics is the name of the game in the 21st century and economics can expedite strengthening of ties between India and Pakistan. He said that ‘Past is Past’ and India had been through the learning curve and over the years it has opened its economy to Foreign Direct Investment. He said that world is becoming very small and every country is leaving behind politics in building economic relationship. He cited the example of Western Europe and unification of two Germany.
Badal said that we have emotional relationship with Pakistan and time has come that we should build upon our strength to further enhance commerce and trade. He said that time has come that now Indian companies were taking over MNCs giants. He gave the example of Tata taking over Jaguar-Range Rover, a British Companies, whereas Mittal’s taking over steel giant Arceler.
Speaking about Indian Punjab Badal said that Punjab with 1.5 % geographical area of the country had been contributing 50 to 60% to national grain pool and Punjabis have exploited every available inch of the land. He said that after excelling in Agriculture, we are focusing on industrial development and we feel that by improving industrial and trade relations with Pak, Punjab’s industry could benefit a lot.
Describing opening up of Wagah as ‘Turning Point’ in the history of both countries, Badal said that both countries were hopeful that by December 31st, negative list would be eliminated or drastically reduced, opening new vistas of trade and commerce between both countries. He said that we have to prepare ourselves for quantum leap in the trade by strengthening infrastructure and logistics at the check posts on both sides so that there was no delay or bottlenecks in import and export of goods. He advocated adopting most scientific logistic system for speedy movement of goods and sought the cooperation of chambers in streamlining the goods clearance procedure.
Seeking the opening of Hussaniwala and Fazilka Border, Badal said that we should open more borders for equitable dispersal of business opportunities in all regions of Punjab. He said that we should learn from history by not importing through Dubai and Singapore route but through Wagah only.
Stressing the need for Visa clearance centers at Amritsar and Lahore, Badal said that both state governments should emphasise their federal governments to take positive steps in this direction.
Emphasising the need for strengthening dairy industry, Badal said that we should also request federal governments to allow import of Neeli Ravi breed of buffalos to Punjab as it could help in growth of dairy industry. He also stressed the need for strengthening sports and cultural ties between both countries.
Raising the issue of Medical Tourism, Badal said that patients visiting India for treatment should be allowed Visa of Amritsar instead of Delhi as Punjab has a strong network of specialty hospitals.
Sharing the sentiments of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Eastern Punjab, said that we don’t have any time to waste on technicalities. Let us pursued our federal government to move at lightning speed so that opportunity that has been offered to us by the history do not slip away. Urging for speedy decision making, Sharif said that time and tide do not wait for none.
On an emotional note, Sharif said that history has parted two brothers and history has made us neighbours and let us vow today that let us become friendly neigbours. He said that time has become to burry the hatchet and move forward to emerge as ‘Collective Economic Force’.
Suggesting constituting of Joint Business Committee in which besides political leaders, industrialists, traders, bureaucrats, agriculturists and experts as members to draw out a blueprint for improving trade and commerce ties to which Punjab Deputy Chief Minister was readily agreed. He announced that first meeting of the Joint Business Committee would be held in Amritsar in December 2012, where Chief Minister of Eastern Punjab Shahbaz Sharif would be the chief guest.
Proposing a setting-up of a joint industrial zone on Indo-Pak border, Sharif said that the joint business Committee should also explore the possibility of this Committee, in which industrial houses of both countries could set up their units.
Reiterating the need for adopting practical and earnest approach leaving behind the ghost of history, Sharif said that we should not become hostage to the criticism of opposition and take forward India-Pak trade relations to such a level from where no elected government in future could dare to retrace the steps.
Appreciating the agriculture progress of Western Punjab Sharif ask his ministers and bureaucracy to study the model of free power to Agriculture sector adopted by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and replicate the same free power to the Eastern Punjab to help the beleaguered peasantry.
Besides prominent Cabinet members of Eastern and Western Punjab, leading giants of Industrial houses from both Punjab shared their experiences and reiterated their commitments to collectively work for improving trade and commerce ties.