Speech by High Commissioner at Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and...

Speech by High Commissioner at Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry [April 29, 2016]

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry,

1.  I thank you for the very warm welcome you have given me in Rawalpindi. This is my first ever visit to your beautiful city and I am impressed by everything I have seen. Let me add that in the three months I have been in Pakistan as India’s High Commissioner, I have been similarly warmly greeted and welcomed by the people of your country. I avail of this opportunity to extend my gratitude and to reciprocate the good wishes of the people of Pakistan.

2.  I would like to reiterate one of my earlier remarks which I made in public soon after taking over the position of India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan. It is my belief that the road to the normalization of India – Pakistan relations lies through greater business ties, enhanced trade links and increasing economic interaction between our two countries. All of you have a very important role to play in this process.

3.  Through my interactions with businessmen and women on both sides of the border, I have got the distinct impression that the business communities of India and Pakistan are ready to take our economic relations forward. In fact, I found very little apprehension in Pakistan of any kind of flood of Indian imports, if trade is freed up. On the contrary, India represents a huge market which all of you must leverage. Many of your products are in demand in India and will sell extremely well in my country. I can tell you that this has been true for business persons from other South Asian countries such Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. They discovered huge opportunities in India for their products and have made huge profits by accepting such opportunities and grasping them with both hands. I have little doubt this will prove true for India – Pakistan business too.

4.  I am firmly of the belief that the Governments of our two countries can, indeed, make rapid progress on the trade front. A lot of spade work was done in the period 2013-14 and can be easily implemented, if both sides agree to move ahead and do so.

5.  I know that the question that will arise in your mind is how can economic relations move ahead, if obtaining a visa to visit the other country is so difficult? Let me assure you that we have paid special emphasis on making it easier for business people from Pakistan to visit India. We have also instituted a three year multiple entry visa for certain categories of businessmen and women from your country. Further, the Governments of India and Pakistan can, indeed, work together to make it easier for people to visit each other’s country. However, this will have to be a mutually beneficial, bilateral process.

6.  I would also suggest that economic events should be permitted to go ahead and not be called off for one reason or the other. For example, the Indian trade exposition, which was to have taken place in Islamabad last month in collaboration with the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, did not materialize. However, let me also add that there are positive stories too. On Monday and Tuesday, there will be a meeting in New Delhi of the India – Pakistan Joint Business Forum where leading industrialists from both nations will get together, exchange views and suggest methods for moving ahead in our economic relations. I am confident that this process will create a win-win situation for both countries. 

7.  I once again thank you for your warm welcome. I look forward to continue working with all the members of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the objective of moving India – Pakistan economic relations ahead.
Thank you

April 29, 2016


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