By Mohsin Ali, Correspondent
Islamabad Pakistan and India should give “unstoppable momentum” to improvement of relations and remain on guard against elements inimical to the process who are present on both sides, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday.
He was addressing the inaugural session of a two-day business conference in Lahore being attended by entrepreneurs of the two countries, which the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India newspaper have sponsored as part of a initiative titled ‘Aman ki Asha’ or quest for peace.
Gilani noted with optimism the progress made during the last one year for normalisation of relations and said he was confident the two democracies would remove “irritants” which hamper economic and trade ties between the neighbours.
He said a significant stride in building trade relations was the opening of Wagah-Attari gate on the common border to help boost the volume of trade. Another welcome development was opening of doors by India for direct investment from Pakistan.
“We now await some practical steps for the removal of non-tariff barriers which hamper Pakistanis exports to the Indian market,” the prime minister said.
On its part, Pakistan has granted MFN (most favoured nation) status in trade to India, meeting a longstanding demand of New Delhi.
“Our people have suffered due to policies of past and they deserve better. No more time should be wasted. We wish settlement of core issues through dialogue,” Gilani said.
He cautioned that non-state actors wanted to spoil relations and such elements were present on both sides of the border.
Complete normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is essential for the economic and social well-being of the people of the two countries, the prime minister said.
“We want to start a new era of economic collaboration with India as well as enhanced people-to-people contacts so that we leave behind a legacy of peace and prosperity for our future generations.”
Gilani said the world was marching forward and both Pakistan and India should also grasp the opportunity for building relations on the basis of mutual respect and interest.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent visit to India as well as his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier were aimed at pushing the peace process forward.
Speaking on the occasion Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal thanked Pakistan for the grant of MFN status and said India was looking forward to complete waiver of the negative list by Islamabad.