Transit trade key to smooth India-Pak ties

Indian Deputy High Commissioner highlighted that the two neighbours will have to find ways to normalise ties…Hamza Ameer

One key solution to resolve the decades-long disputes between India and Pakistan is through transit trade, says Indian Deputy High Commissioner Suresh Kumar.

Kumar made the remark at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce event where he highlighted that the two neighbours will have to find ways to normalise ties, adding that New Delhi wants good relations with Islamabad because the geographical reality of both countries cannot be changed.

“India is interested in tapping the Central Asian markets, which Pakistan could facilitate through transit trade,” he.

The positive statement by the Deputy High Commissioner holds great significance as experts see it as a departure from the toxic rhetoric, witnessed from both sides against each other, which has resulted in a damaging any hopes of normalisation of ties between the two countries.

And after 2019, when India changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir to two union territories, by abrogating Article 370 and 35A; Pakistan has shut down doors of trade and any economic activity with India.

Experts say that the positive expression and desire by India may seem like an unlikely option at the moment, considering the current status of ties between the two countries, exchange of rough and strong statements against heads of states of both sides and the overall frigid bilateral ties.

However, a positive forward movement can certainly be seen with hopes, especially and economic benefits can be entertained for both sides through trade ties, which got snapped after 2019.

“Trading with India and other states in our neighbourhood, indeed the wider Asian region, makes geo-economic sense, and is in Pakistan’s interest,” analysed an editorial piece of a local daily in Pakistan.

“The economics of Pakistan’s principal Western trading partners — the US and the EU — appear to be slowing; therefore, it is imperative that the currently lukewarm ties with regional trading partners be improved.”

Other experts argue that the desire of better relations with neighbours is not new from both sides. However, such positive gestures and any initiative in this regard seems to have been blocked by the military establishment, or by the political leaderships in view of the adverse effects it can have on their political future in the country.

Former army chief Qamar Bajwa, during his tenure had numerously highlighted about the need to improve ties with India.

However, with the new military establishment in place, it remains to be seen if it also shares the same view as Bajwa, especially in relations to relations with India.

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