India’s decision to lift ban on investments by Pakistani individuals and companies in India has been guardedly appreciated in the trading circles of Pakistan as a meaningful step. It is manifestly an effort towards providing an impetus and environment for promoting the barely moving Composite Dialogue Process (CDP) which seems to have lost steam in the wake of the Mumbai strike by terrorists in Nov 2008. India has used the incident to shackle the Indo-Pak dialogue effort to the issue of terrorism instead of tackling eight issues centered on the core issue of Kashmir. In an attempt to move forward, earlier in the year, Pakistan has shown inclination for considering to grant India with the status of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) concerning bilateral trade. Despite all this it is unlikely that trade will pick up because the element of the lack of trust that has stymied the CDP invariably governs the trade relations as well. While Indian move is shrewd in attracting the flight of capital from Pakistan, the environment of distrust and uncertainty is thick enough to preclude any substantive initiative by Pakistani business community.
Trade, theoretically, should provide strong incentives in breaking the ice which hold back India-Pakistan bilateral relations in a seeming perpetual state of limbo. For any meaningful advancement in trade relations it is essential that visible progress is made related to an important component of the CDP. Siachin, being a totally military issue, to the exclusion of political angle due to non-involvement of human population, should be a good starter which can be followed up with resolution of Sir Creek. Unless the dialogue under CDP picks up a meaningful direction and steam towards ultimate resolution of Kashmir issue, trade relations between the two countries can never realise their true potential and promise.
Gul Rehman Wazir
Peshawar Cantt comments powered by Disqus