The Times of India
ATTARI: A team of Indian business tycoons made history on Sunday when they crossed the Radcliffe line at the India-Pakistan border at Attari to meet their counterparts in Pakistan.
The group of business leaders form part of the 45-member delegation, led by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president and Godrej chairman Adi Godrej, who will be meeting key Pakistani businessmen, ministers and officials in Lahore at the two-day Aman ki Asha Indo-Pak Economic Conference.
The first such Aman ki Asha meet was held in New Delhi in 2010. The Lahore conference will be inaugurated on Monday by Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Speaking to TOI on Sunday before walking across to the neighbouring nation, former chief of Maruti Udyog and CMD of Carnation Auto Jagdish Khattar said there was huge potential for trade and industry between the two nations but things would improve only step-by-step. “By adopting an economic agenda over a political one, the common people of both nations will be immensely benefited,” said Khattar.
Liberty Shoes chief Adesh Gupta said he was hopeful of a meaningful interaction with his Pakistani counterparts at the Lahore conference. “There is a natural synergy between India and Pakistan which have big markets and require consumer goods, commodities, manufacturing units, services, etc,” he said.
Urging both nations to adopt an economic agenda, Gupta said he hoped to find and explore new ways for the welfare of business and industry in both countries, with the Lahore conference providing businesspersons an opportunity to explore areas of mutual interests.
The Aman ki Asha initiative has seen industrialists of both the countries working together in a number of committees formed in areas of mutual interest and benefit, in particular information technology, textiles, healthcare, among others, said Countrystrategy Business Consultants’ CEO Sudhir Kapur. While governments invested their efforts to normalize relations between the two countries, industrialists sought to foster goodwill and better economic relations, he said.
Times Group’s executive president Rahul Kansal said both nations had wasted nearly 60 years by paying more attention to everything else except business.
“When you keep discussing core issues, you get stuck and there is a stalemate. We should go beyond core issues and find a new way whereby we can move forward by strengthening economic ties,” he said.
The second Aman ki Asha Indo-Pak Economic Conference will also see the presence of Pakistan’s commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Faheem, foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, among other Pakistan ministers and officials.
The Indian delegation includes India Inc’s leading lights – Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto, Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Corporate Services, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises, Hari Bhartia, CMD of Jubilant Life Sciences, Dr Naresh Trehan, CMD of Medanta, the Medicity, Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of CII and others. The conference, organized jointly by the Times of India and Pakistan’s Jang Group, is sponsored by CII and Pakistan Business Council.