Pak must address our concerns over cross-border terror: India


New Delhi : Demanding redressal of its concerns on cross-border terrorism by Pakistan in an ‘effective and transparent’ manner, India on Wednesday said it was necessary for a ‘comprehensive, serious and sustained’ dialogue between the two countries.

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It also expressed willingness to look at existing bilateral visa agreement that was signed in 1974 to facilitate travel by bonafide businessmen from both the countries amid complaints by a Pakistani industry body that tough visa norms in India are hurdles to trade.

Observing that the two countries have remained ‘distanced’ since Independence, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India has consistently proposed a step-by-step approach for normalisation of relations and this approach does not ‘preclude discussions on any issue.’

She said India was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue.

‘However, for the dialogue to be comprehensive, serious and sustained, Pakistan must also address our terrorism-related concerns in an effective and transparent manner.’

Rao, who was addressing a conference on ‘India-Pakistan Economic Relations: Prospects and Challenges’, also talked about setting up an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at a cost of Rs 150 crore, along the India-Pakistan border at Attari for trade facilitation.

‘We are also open to looking at the existing bilateral visa agreement that was signed in 1974 to facilitate travel by bonafide businessmen from both countries,’ she said.

While responding to issues raised by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Sultan Ahmed Chawla, who talked about the need to take trade relations forward, Rao reiterated India’s commitment to remove all obstacles.

Referring to Indo-Pak talks in July this year in Islamabad, the Foreign Secretary said, ‘There were a number of proposals we had put on the table and one of them was for the high officials, Commerce Secretaries of two countries to meet and discuss outstanding issues on the trade front to see how we could address the removal of these obstacles.’

‘We are still committed to take this process forward, as and when the Pakistan side is ready,’ she said, adding ‘We have made similar suggestions as far as trade across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned for better facilitation and better logistics.’

Rao also hoped that Pakistan will grant Most Favoured Nation’s status to India based on the recommendation by Pakistani business community and will shift from a positive list of imports to a negative list regime.