Monday, 07 May 2012 16:48
LAHORE: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Monday said Pakistan is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with India through dialogue, besides developing bilateral relations on equal basis.
"We want all our core issues settled through dialogue on equitable basis and want to start a new era of economic collaboration with India," said the Prime Minister while addressing the inaugural session of a two-day second "Aman Ki Asha Economic Conference" held here at a local hotel.
Gilani said Pakistan also wants to enhance people-to-people contacts to promote peace and prosperity for future generations.
The Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Shabarwal, President Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Adi Godrej, Pakistan Business Council (PBC) Chairman Asad Umar, CII Director General Chandrajit Bannerjee, Times of India Director Rahul Kansal and Jang Group Managing Director Shahrukh Hasan and a large number of prominent businessmen from both the countries were also present on this occasion.
Gilani said this high profile gathering of the industrialists, entrepreneurs and business professionals of both the countries showed the commitment of the private sector to develop bilateral economic relations.
He said it is a matter of satisfaction that the business communities of two countries are exploring vistas of economic cooperation.
"You are among those bright minds that help create wealth, generate economic activity which is so vital for the progress and prosperity of any country," he added.
Gilani said poverty, disease, and ignorance should not be the fate of the peoples of two countries anymore.
He said the presence of leading businessmen here also underlines the importance which the business community attaches to peace and normalization of relations between two countries towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
The premier said the delegates participating in this conference are the best ambassadors of peace for both countries as each one has an important role to play in furthering this relationship and building the foundations of a durable peace.
Gilani said, "World is marching on and it is time for us to shed the baggage of the past and grab the opportunity at hand and act with urgency to build relations of mutual trust."
He said, "We have lost precious time and should not allow its wastage anymore."
The Prime Minister said, "I feel optimistic when I see that over the last 12 months, the two countries have moved fast not just to normalize relations but remove those irritants which hamper trade and economic relations."
Gilani said the two countries announced in April 2011 their intention to normalize bilateral trade relations and by April 2012 and they had made huge strides in this direction.
He said both sides have also decided to scrap the positive list of imports from India and replace it by a negative list.
Gilani said, "We have recently witnessed the opening up of Wagah-Attari Trade Gate, which will go a long way in boosting the volume of trade between the two countries."
He said President Asif Ali Zardari's recent visit to India and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as series of meetings that he (Gilani) held with his Indian counterpart on different occasions have been aimed at pushing the peace process forward and ensuring that it gathers an unstoppable momentum.
"As the democratic government enters the fifth year of term, improved relations with India is one of our cherished goals to which we continue to make considerable progress", he said.
Appreciating the decision of India for allowing investment from Pakistan, the Prime Minister said now Pakistan has been awaiting some practical steps from India for the removal of non-tariff barriers, which hamper its exports to Indian market.
Gilani said, "We face many challenges and threats from forces inimical to peace as we are passing through turbulent times in our history in which non-state actors are determined to harm the peace process."
Gilani said such non-state forces are present on both sides of the border and both the countries need to remain vigilant that these forces could not be able to derail hard earned gains.
Despite these challenges, Gilani said, the People's government has also worked hard to revive the country's economy affected by the global financial crisis as well as natural disasters.
"We have pushed the reform agenda and stayed committed to the policies of economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization, besides encouraging the private sector to play a greater role in the country's economy," he added.
Gilani said the government has also been trying to create conducive atmosphere which attracts both the foreign and domestic investors to Pakistan.
Prime Minister Gilani said under the present government Pakistan has achieved many economic milestones including record exports of 25 billion dollars in the last financial year.
"We are aware of the fact that without enhancing regional trade the country cannot realize its full potential, therefore, improved relations with India are important for us as it offers a billion plus market to the Pakistani exporters", he added.
The Prime Minister said there are many areas and sectors with huge trade potential as well as opportunities for collaboration including in information technology, engineering, education and health.
He said a liberal trade regime ensures flow of cheaper imports for both countries due to their geographical proximity and resultant lower freight costs.
The premier said Pakistani textiles have a huge market across the border, similarly, India can get buyers for its chemicals, pharmaceutical items and engineering goods, cements.
He said, the engine of economic growth is not fueled by regional tensions and conflicts, but it needs peace and enabling environment.
Gilani said social well being of the people depends on normalization of relations between both the countries on sustainable basis.
He also appreciated the role of the Confederation of Indian Industries and the Pakistan Business Council for joining their hands with the media houses to bring together the top businessmen from both sides of the border.
He said despite ups and downs in bilateral relations, the support to the cause of peace and normalization of relations with India has remained steadfast.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan's closest friend and strategic partner, China, is also in favour of normalization of relations with India.
Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2012