NEW DELHI, India Pakistan has offered to more than double its annual trade with India and to otherwise repair economic ties badly damaged since the two rivals went to war in 1971, Pakistan’s finance minister said Saturday.
“There is an urge on the part of both the countries to bury the harvest of the past and cultivate what I will call a harvest of hope,” Mahabub ul Haq said after three days of meetings with senior Indian Officials, including Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Hag said he received “very favorable responses to all the proposals” from senior Indian officials studying them. There was no immediate comment from the New Delhi government.
The minister said he did not believe political tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi should interfere with the restoration of economic relations, adding that efforts to repair ties in both areas have to move simultaneously.”
India and Pakistan have been at odds since they were granted independence by Britain in 1947. A year later they fought the first of three wars.
The last war was in 1971 when India helped Bangladesh then East Pakistan achieve independence from Pakistan, Troops of both sides continue to clash frequently along their disputed border in northern Kaslzy, and New Delhi periodically accuses Islamabad of developing atomic weapons.
Haq said his government’s proposals call for doubling or tripling bilateral trade by the end of 1986 from the current $50 million.
He told a news conference a key proposal was the restoration of private sector trade, which was banned by Pakistan to protect domestic manufacturers from a flood of better quality Indian goods.
As a step toward that goal, proposed each country next year the establishment of at least one business venture.
Haq also said his government to expand a list of 42 goods produced wanted joint approves Pakistan in the two countries, which are currently the only commodities traded between the neighbors. He said Pakistan was seeking “a large list of items where private trade can operate without restriction.”
The Pakistan plan also called for the development of direct dial telephone links between major Indian and Pakistan cities, regular talks by trade officials, a visit next year to Pakistan by Indian business leaders, student exchanges and liberalization of tax laws.
Hag said Pakistan hopes to hold high-level talks with India next month to discuss the mechanics for implementing the proposals.
“We believe a very serious attempt will be made next month on both sides to bring these things into practical shape …so we can begin the New Year with a new relationship,” Haq said.
Haq said Pakistan believed it was time to improve economic ties because of Gandhi’s efforts to stimulate foreign trade and the transition to a civilian government promised next month in Pakistan after eight years of martial law.
Article extracted from this publication >> November 22, 1985