Chandigarh, Sep 19 (Calcutta Tube) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Saturday urged the governments of India and Pakistan to take initiatives to make the international border between both the countries soft, secure and peaceful to boost economic performance in the region.
Badal said trade between both countries was ‘rather sluggish’ and the trade potential could be explored further.
Delivering his inaugural address at the one-day interactive session on ‘Infrastructure Linkages Between Two Punjabs’ organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here, Badal said this move would certainly offer possibilities of opening trade right up to Central Asia and Europe through land routes.
‘Therefore, it is imperative that linkages, particularly infrastructure ones are established between both Punjabs with consent of the government of India and government of Pakistan.’
Badal said it was high time both the Indian and Pakistani Punjab came closer for their mutual socio-economic development and prosperity as these were geographically proximate, culturally integrated and economically inter-dependent besides sharing a common language and even dialect.
Though some trade through the Attari-Wagah land route takes place between both countries, it has limited scope, he said, urging eminent economists, academicians, political analysts and intellectuals to come forward for creating such atmosphere which could further boost the people-to-people contact as a confidence building exercise.
Dwelling on the partition of India in 1947, Badal said: ‘Accepting this as a historical fact, the development and strengthening of linkages is possible only if India and Pakistan jointly decide to come closer and convert the hot border into a soft border based on common understanding of peace and prosperity in south and central Asia.’
He however said that the linkages between two Punjabs should not in any way be understood as weakening the two independent sovereign countries but should be viewed as strengthening both India and Pakistan by bringing them together.
The chief minister assured all help and cooperation from his government to create infrastructure for this purpose.
He said that the first Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari was established in 2007.
‘As per customs department data, on an average 20-30 trucks cross Attari-Wagah every day. The entire north India and Punjab in particular would gain much more from expanding trade with Pakistan and beyond and the initiation of joint projects on both sides of Punjab would give them enormous opportunities for expansion of trade.’
He said that India and Pakistan need to understand the European model to co-exist and share trade in this region.