New Delhi: In a clear message that current strain could impact trade ties, India on Wednesday told Pakistan that economic engagement can be enhanced in an environment of peace and stability and asserted “anything which undermines that environment is not conducive” for economic relations.
The remarks by Commerce and Industry minister Anand Sharma came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tough message to Pakistan that it cannot be “business as usual” in the aftermath of the beheading of an Indian soldier on the Line of Control last week.
Sharma’s comments, ahead of the Annual Partnership Summit to be held in Agra from 27 January, also assume significance given the fact that no bilateral meeting is scheduled between Sharma and his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who is travelling to India for the business meet. “As of now, we have not given any consideration to this matter in a negative sense. (But) yes, what has happened is horrific, its unacceptable, highly provocative. And this is for Pakistan to realise that where the well being of the economy of the country lies,” Sharma told reporters here. The minister was asked whether he believes that the recent development along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir could impact bilateral trade ties.
The economic engagement can be enhanced only in an environment of peace and stability and there was no other way forward for this region, he said and asserted that “anything which undermines that environment is not conducive”.
Demanding that Islamabad should take action against those who are responsible for brutal killing of Indian soldiers, he said,“...that would be in Pakistan’s own interest, not only for bilateral relations but its global image as a responsible nation state.”
Meanwhile, official sources have indicated that the 10-member Pakistan business delegation, which was supposed to participate in the Annual Partnership Summit in Agra, has cancelled its visit. This comes in the backdrop of increasing tensions between the two countries.
However, Pakistan commerce minister Fahim and secretary Munir Qureshi have confirmed their participation in the three-day summit, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, Commerce and Industry Ministry and Uttar Pradesh government. In Islamabad, Amjad Baloch, staff officer to the Commerce minister, denied that Fahim has called off the visit.
He told PTI that a formal proposal regarding the visit of the minister and commerce secretary has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The bilateral trade between the countries stood at about $2 billion in 2011-12.