LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday that the Pakistan-India economic conference will boost the peace process between the South Asian neighbours, Geo News reported.
The prime minister was addressing the inaugural session of the two-day Economic Conference being held here, under the auspices of Aman Ki Asha, a joint initiative of the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India newspaper.
Gilani said both sides are making efforts to boost trade. He urged that poverty and disease should not become the fate of this region
He said that our people have suffered due to policies of past and that they deserve better. The PM said that no more time should be wasted. ‘We wish settlement of core issues through dialogue’, the prime minister said.
Gilani said non-state actors are determined to spoil relations and such elements are present on both sides of border.
APP adds: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf 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.
The Prime Minister 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 who help create wealth, generate economic activity which is so vital for the progress and prosperity of any country,” he added.
The prime minister 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 prime minister 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.”
Prime Minister Gilani 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.”
The premier 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.”
The prime minister 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.
The prime minister said the government has also been trying to create conducive atmosphere which attracts both the foreign and domestic investors to Pakistan.