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Rasheed Khalid

The News

Published Date: Dec 8, 2015

People-to-people contact between India and Pakistan stressed

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that if arrangement of people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan is not there, what cooperation can take place between two South Asian giants. 
Mr Ahsan was addressing 4-day 18th Sustainable Development Conference coinciding with 8th South Asian Economic Summit organised by Sustainable Development Conference here on Monday. 
He said that South Asia is a region where even cricket matches have become an issue like solving Kashmir. We need to recognise hard realities, he said adding that Premier Nawaz Sharif has strong commitment to reconciliation and harmony in the region. We want to replace mistrust with trust want to become partners in development. Dispel ocean of poverty by cooperation, he exhorted. 
The minister said that we need to have liberal visa regime. He said that trade also needs trust and barriers cannot be removed without trade facilitation which needs political will. He said that our oranges are very popular in Kazakhstan which reach there through Afghanistan. He said that enterprise is there. We need to increase infrastructure which require keeping in place certain regimes. How much facilitation can be done where more than a hundred signatures and hours are required to reach a commodity in other country. He said that we need to break the ice, end this despondency and encourage dialogue. He hoped that after meeting of two premiers in Paris, the process of mediation will start. 
Dispelling apprehensions of India, he said that Pak-China Economic Corridor is not a conspiracy against any country but laying foundations for cooperation for neighbouring countries. It will have great prospects for India also. He said that success depends on political will from all sides. He assured political commitment from Pakistan. 
Ahsan Iqbal said that PCEC is not the only project of regional connectivity. It is not a bilateral but an international enterprise. He said we are in process of roads, motorways, and gas pipelines. It can lead us to an opportunity of global nature. He said above 80% projects we started under PCEC are related to energy. It has western, central and eastern sectors. He also hoped relocation of industry from China to Pakistan because of low wages here. 
He said that climate change is the biggest challenge which we must cope with for survival of our future. 
Miftah Ismail, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, said that Track-II initiative in the region will promote trade and investment in South Asia. 
He said that pipeline agreements are examples of cooperation in South Asia. He appreciated holding of South Asia economic summit. He stressed the importance of clean forms of energy which need to be promoted in the region. He promised to convey the recommendations of the summit to the higher authorities of the government. 
Praber De from India said that discussion on motorways is a good beginning. He said that if there is no transport facilities, trade will not increase. He said that security is also important. He recommended agreements on resources, regional railway and roads. 
RP Ramier, Manager, Multimotor Transport, India, said that connectivity is slow despite 30 years of SAARC. He said recommendations of last South Asian Economic Summit were partially implemented. Things are coming up, he said. He called for establishing an efficient integrated and harmonised transport system in South Asia. Shafqal Kakakhel, Chairperson, Board of Governors, SDPI, also spoke on the occasion.