India has never ceased trade contacts with Pakistan and desires improved relations: Indian diplomat

India never suspended trade links with Pakistan and wants to continue towards normalising business ties, a senior Indian ambassador here has said, adding that today’s diplomacy concentrates on tourism, trade and technology because “money speaks its own language”.

According to the Dawn newspaper, Suresh Kumar, India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, made these statements on Friday at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

“We can’t change our geography, so India always wants better relations with Pakistan,” he remarked.

“We want to establish regular relations with Pakistan. “We also did not halt commerce with Pakistan because it was Pakistan who did it,” he added.

“It would be better if we could figure out how to change our problems and conditions,” Kumar remarked.

After New Delhi abolished Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Pakistan froze bilateral trade with India and expelled its High Commissioner in Islamabad in 2019.

India has maintained that it wants regular neighbourly ties with Pakistan while emphasising that the onus is on Islamabad to create a safe environment for such an engagement.

According to the data, trade with Pakistan was worth USD 329.26 million in 2020-21 and USD 830.58 million in 2019-20.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, he admitted, the number of visas provided by the Indian embassy to Pakistanis decreased.

How­ever, he argued that the number has now increa­sed, since 30,000 visas were being awarded every year, which he stated was “a huge figure”.

Kumar stated that the Indian government also grants Pakistanis medical and sports visas.

He claimed that the days of diplomacy centred on collecting political reports were long gone. Today’s di­plo­macy, he remarked, revol­ved around tourism, trade and technology “as money speaks its own language”.

India was presently undertaking commerce of USD 120 billion with China, in which the balance of trade is towards China, he said, noting that imports “are not necessarily wrong and also have advantages”.

According to Kumar, intellectual property has surpassed physical property in importance. “Europe is gaining money thanks to intellectual property rights by sitting in distant nations and manufacturing in other countries,” he claimed. “European universities are focused on technology.” He stated that transit trade was extremely important because Central Asia was a large market to which India required access. Central Asia, too, required access to India.

He stated that India was on track to become one of the world’s largest economies. “Our service sector has expanded dramatically, and we are now focusing on manufacturing, such as vehicle and electronics manufacture,” he stated.

According to LCCI President Kashif Anwar, developing economic relations between India and Pakistan is a difficult issue that requires addressing a variety of political, economic, and social factors.

“But we are of the view that the foremost step that may be taken to strengthen economic relations betw­een India and Pakistan is to normalise commercial relations. This would provide significant economic benefits to both countries,” he said.

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