By Our Correspondent
LAHORE: Leading industrialists of the country said on Saturday that the Joint Economic Indo-Pak Conference would help strengthen trust and build confidence between the two countries.
The conference will open up a world of economic opportunities for both the countries to work together in the field of commerce. The event can help mitigate the growing problem of unemployment in both the countries and help them move towards socio-economic progress.
These views were shared by the guests at the Jang Economic Forum held in connection with the upcoming Indo-Pak Economic Conference.
The conference is organized by Aman Ki Asha, a joint peace and cooperation project of the Jang Group and Times of India.
Prominent businessman Mian Mohammad Mansha said that the conference would not only do wonders for economic trust-building and also serve as a platform for exploitation of mutually beneficial economic quarters. It would also aid in areas of cross border tourism and political mood of the region, he added.
He said that both countries had an opportunity to learn from each other. If India, he added, was strong in some sectors, Pakistan had an edge in certain other sectors. The conference should be held as a regular feature between the two countries periodically as it would prove pivotal in establishing strengthening ties in many departments, he said and added that it would eventually lead to economic harmonization between the two countries.
Reflecting on the upcoming conference, former Vice President World Bank Shahid Javaid said that the conference would help develop more understanding between the two countries and bring the countries closer. He expressed reservations over the fact that Pakistan seemed to be more enthusiastic about Indo-Pak economic and trade cooperation while India had taken a relatively reluctant stance on the issue. Provided that Indo-Pak trade flourished Pakistanis GDP could improve by 2.4 percent, he said. For economic development, he added, it was imperative that Pakistan restructured its economic infrastructure on progressive grounds.
Former Federal Minister Trade Razzaq Daud said that the current state of Indo-Pak relations made the conference even more important. Trade with India could open up a big market for Pakistani producers and boost the economy substantially. Such initiatives were imperative if we wanted to eliminate poverty and unemployment from the country, he said.
Former State Bank governor Shahid Kardar appreciated the role of Aman Ki Asha, terming the initiative the need of the hour. He went on to say that it was high time Pakistan aligned its economic policies in a way where maximum returns were possible, and cooperation with India was among the chief possibilities. Be it developed or developing countries, the biggest consumer was the youth, he said. That a majority of the population in both countries was youth, they were highly receptive markets, he said. He noted that the global economy was in crucial phase and it merited that Pakistan took proactive steps to sustain in such challenging scenario. If Pakistan and India worked together, the mutual trade could go up to 10 to 50 billion dollars.
Eminent industrialist Syed Yawar Ali said that Pakistan was, by no means, inferior (to any country) and it should try to protect its interests first while considering having trade with India. When it comes to production and quality, our industry was hit hard by the energy crisis, he said and added that Indian markets were very receptive to Pakistani products and visa versa. He hoped the conference could lead to conclusions which could productively reshape the economies of both countries and eventually help the people of these countries.
SAARC Chamber of Commerce vice-president Iftikhar Ali Malik said that current circumstances demanded proactive trade between Indo-Pak and could serve on economic, social and political fronts as the road to progress. The businessmen of both countries were willing to boost trade ties provided the system was congenial. He termed it the right time to more forward in this direction and lauded the efforts of Aman Ki Asha in this regard.
Economic expert Dr Ayesha Ghaus said that radical practical steps needed to be taken to improve economic and trade ties between the two countries. She was of the view that the matter should be taken up as a necessity, instead of just an option, terming the conference a right step in that direction.