Attari (Amritsar), November 9, 2012: Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today described his five day visit to Pakistan as historic breakthrough as decisions taken by both Punjabs’ would change the economic profile of whole region.
He said that we have laid solid foundation for mutual trade and commerce cooperation between two Punjab and now the onus is on respective Union Governments to carry forward the dialogues.
Briefing the media after entering India through Attari Border, Badal said that he was overwhelmed with the love and affection showered by Pakistani people and “he has got more than he expected”.
Badal said that both Punjabs’ were eager to boost trade, commerce, culture and sports ties as both have realized that the language of economics was more beneficial rather than language of bullet. He said that with the opening of Wagah and likely decision of giving full port status to Wagah, both Punjabs’ can grab this economic opportunity if they work in coordinated manner.
Dwelling on the decisions Badal said that Joint Working Committee for trade and commerce constituted during visit would have 10 members each from both Punjabs’ and we work out a blue print for increasing commerce and industrial ties. He said that Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has also agreed on the proposal of Joint Industrial Zones in both parts of Punjab in which entrepreneurs of both Punjabs could set up their industries and their industry would be treated at par with local industry.
He said that he has also raised the issue of Visa Consulate at Lahore and Amritsar to facilitate Visa to the traders and pilgrims. He said that he has also asked Pakistani Punjab CM to persuade his government to open Hussainiwala and Suleman Ki (Fazilka) borders as with increased trade and commerce both countries, there could be proper dispersal of business. He said that he hoped that let Union Governments of both countries would take early decision on the spot Visa for people above 65 years of age and children. He has requested Pak Punjab CM to provide better infrastructure in ICP Pakistan to fasten the clearance of goods movement. He has also raised the issue of proper coordination on either sides of border.
Expressing satisfaction over more than positive response from Pak Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Badal said that he has assured to take up the issue of renaming the chowk in Lahore on the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He has also requested Sharif to persuade his government for release of Sarbjit and other innocent Indian prisoners, who have lodged in Pakistani jails and had completed their term or were held in petty crimes.
Badal said that he has invited Pak Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and his Cabinet colleagues for finals of World Cup Kabaddi and he has agreed to be Chief Guest and bring his Cabinet colleagues for the meeting of Joint Business Committee.
The Deputy Chief Minister said that he has requested Pak Punjab CM to initiate Student Exchange Program to encourage people to people contact. He said that we both have agreed for promotion of religious tourism.
Badal said that he has requested Pak Punjab CM to persuade Union Government to open corridor to Kartarpur Sahib and handing over the upkeep of Sikh shrines in Pakistan to SGPC.
Describing sports diplomacy as best diplomacy, Badal said that both Punjabs’ have agreed to have bi-annual Punjab Cup in the games of Cricket, Hockey, Wrestling and Tug-of-War. He said that he has also requested Speaker Pak Punjab Assembly Rana Iqbal Mohammad to organize matches between MLAs of Punjab Assembly and Member of Provincial Assembly of Pak Punjab in the games of cricket and if possible in Kabaddi also.
Badal said that he has also requested Punjab CM to promote medical tourism to Punjab as Punjab has the best infrastructure.
Divulging the details, he said that talks between two chambers of Commerce were quite fruitful and they have jointly decided to take forward this dialogue.
Earlier, as Badal crossed Wagah Border hundreds of people and supporters of Shiromani Akali Dal cheered him for bringing two Punjabs’ together. He was given warm send off by Speaker of Punjab Assembly Rana Iqbal Mohammad and Education Minister of Punjab Province Mian Zayeem Hussain Qadri.