Discernible defrosting of Pakistan, India ties: Daily


Islamabad : Pakistan and India have moved on from the low point of the Mumbai attacks and now there is a discernible defrosting of ties, said a Pakistani daily.

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“These things take time”, an editorial in the News International said Friday as Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is accompanied by business leaders of more than 100 Indian companies, wrapped up a four-day trip to Pakistan that began Monday.

The editorial said: “…there is a discernible defrosting of relations with our neighbour to the east”.

“It is too early to say that there is a ‘normalisation’ of relations; and it can be argued that relations between India and Pakistan have never been ‘normal’ anyway. Nevertheless both countries have moved on from the low point of the Mumbai attacks, and the signing Wednesday of a Customs Cooperation Agreement, Mutual Recognition Agreement and Redressal of Trade Grievance Agreement all put flesh on the bones of diplomatic niceties,” it added.

The editorial said that key institutions are working cross-border, and the State Bank of Pakistan and the State Reserve Bank of India are both to open branches here and there.

“The thorny issue of visas for businessmen a joint working group from our interior ministry and the Indian ministry of home affairs are seeking agreements on visa facilitation. Trade between the two countries is a mere $2.7 billion a year, far below its potential.”

It, however, said that the proposed phasing out of the ‘negative list’ by December 2012 is “a cause for concern in our emerging entrepreneurial community as well as struggling businesses finding it hard to stay afloat in our ramshackle economy”.

“The phasing out of the negative list would lead to India being granted ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) once it disappeared, and not everybody is happy about this.”

The editorial noted that the purpose of the negative list was to “provide breathing space for our own industries to improve their efficiency and product range to allow them to compete with Indian goods on a level playing field”.

Admitting that bringing relations with India “out of the freezer was never going to make everybody happy”, the editorial said that neither is it going to be glitch-free or universally harmonious.