According to a senior Indian diplomat, India has never stopped its trade relations with Pakistan and is eager to normalise business ties. Suresh Kumar, India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, emphasised that diplomacy today focuses on tourism, trade, and technology, as “money speaks its own language,” while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday as reported by the Dawn newspaper.
Kumar stated that India wants better relations with Pakistan since they cannot alter their geography, and it is necessary to move toward normal relations with the country. Kumar refuted claims that India stopped trade with Pakistan, noting that Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India in 2019 and expelled its High Commissioner in Islamabad after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Kumar suggested that both countries work together to solve their issues and situations.
Data indicates that trade with Pakistan was valued at $329.26 million in 2020-21 and $830.58 million in 2019-20. Although visa issuance to Pakistanis by the Indian embassy decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kumar reported that the number has since risen, with 30,000 visas issued each year, which he considers a significant number. Kumar said India’s government was also granting medical and sports visas to Pakistanis.
Kumar emphasised that diplomacy today revolves around tourism, trade, and technology, focusing on intellectual property rights rather than physical property. Transit trade is critical, according to him, as Central Asia is a massive market, and India requires access to it. In addition, Central Asia also needs access to India. Kumar stated that India is on track to become one of the largest economies in the world, with a thriving service industry and a growing focus on manufacturing, such as automobile and electronics manufacturing.
Kashif Anwar, the LCCI President, stated that improving economic relations between India and Pakistan is a complex issue that requires addressing various political, economic, and social factors. However, Anwar said that normalising trade relations are the first step toward enhancing economic relations between the two nations, which would bring substantial economic benefits to both countries.