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Indo-Pak experts for joint Punjab socio-eco ventures

Written by: Staff

Chandigarh, May 12: The bureaucrats and experts in the fields of trade and agriculture of the Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab today felt the need for joint exercices for socio-economic cooperation and infrastructural linkages across the border.

Punjab Chief Secretary K R Lakhanpal, in his inaugural address at the seminar on 'Socio-Economic Cooperation between Indian Punjab and Pakistan Punjab', said the governments of the two states of Punjab were already doing efforts for the removal of trade barriers.

Both the states had a vast potential for mutual trade and agriculture exchange for which certain exisiting barries should be removed, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice Chancellor Dr K S Aulakh and Pakistan Member Parliament and Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) chairman Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi advocated for speeding up the process of joint projects in research and development between the PAU and the Faislabad Agriculture University in Pakistan.

Mr Qureshi said there was a need to have strong linkages between the univerisities of agriculture, exchange of farmers delegations and to create a market of agri-based commodities for better propspects of mutual trade in agriculture.

He said it was unfortunate that both the states of Punjab never had a strategy to deal with the ill-effects of the Green Revolution.

''The basic nature of these two agrarian states is the same,'' he added.

Dr Lakhwinder Singh of the Department of Economics in Punjabi University, Patiala said the denial of land route for trade via Wagah and Hussainiwala borders in Punjab was economically irrational. ''It is unfortunate that these land routes remain unutilised while the commodities are sent to each other through Dubai and then Karachi ports,'' he said.

Pakistan Punjab Secretary for Agriculture Maj (retd) Fayyaz Bashir observed that at least the social isolation aming the Punjabis on either side of the Indo-Pak border was now fading away.

''It is good that the people in much larges numbers are crossing the Wagah border and this is an encouraging trend,'' he said.

He pointed out that like the Indian Punjab, the Pakistan Punjab was also ahead in the production of wheat and rice, while teh latter was much ahead in the production of cotton, which was 79 per cent of the Pakistan's total cotton prduction.

Mr Bashir said that the PAU could help Pakistan in increasing the yield of wheat which was much less than in Indian Punjab.

The other commodities identified at the seminar for mutual trade and for the open world market from the Indian sub-continent were sugar, molasses and mangoes.

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry Regional Director P K Verma said there was an immediate need to permanently lift the trade barries in certain commodities of high potential like wheat, molasses and sugar.

He said the first Indo-Pak Trade Fair in Amrtsar in Deceber 2005 was a good beginning. But, he pointed out, only 57 out of the 150 identified exhibitors from Pakistan were given visas for the trade fair.


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