India’s top envoy to Pakistan T. C. Raghavan on Thursday blamed Pakistan for delaying a trade liberalization deal that has been pending for two years.
Addressing an ‘Emerging Business Opportunities in India’ workshop in Islamabad, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan said both countries had agreed to a broad framework in September 2012. “This was followed by another agreement in January 2014. If both of these had been implemented, then we would already have achieved non-discriminatory market access,” he added.
According to Raghavan, New Delhi issued a letter detailing its proposals in January but has yet to receive a response from Islamabad.
The workshop, attended by over 100 people from across Pakistan, included a live broadcast of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in which he launched his “Make in India’ campaign.
Addressing the workshop, Raghavan emphasized efforts to normalize relations between the neighboring countries. “We want to convert red tape into red carpet,” he said. He said both India and Pakistan faced similar issues, including unemployment, and poverty, and noted that increasing ties would help alleviate these common challenges.
“Business-to-business interaction between Pakistan and India is flouring,” he said. “We hope political activities will also resume shortly, as there are no [unassailable] barriers to diplomacy.” India called off scheduled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August after Islamabad’s envoy in New Delhi met Kashmiri separatists. Raghavan said this was not a matter of great concern. “If one meeting hasn’t been held, it doesn’t mean all hell has broken out,” he said. “I don’t think that would be the correct reading of the situation.”
According to Raghavan, ties between India and Pakistan are improving. “Business interactions are in progress, people are traveling [between the two countries], Pakistan played very well in the [cricket] Champions League, the star of a major Bollywood film is a Pakistani actor [Fawad Khan], and Pakistani TV serials are very popular in India,” he said.
The Indian envoy also clarified reports that New Delhi had endangered lives in Pakistan by discharging excess water to rivers during this year’s devastating floods in Punjab province. “There are no dams on Jehlum and Chenab [Rivers] in India that could store water and discharge it to cause floods in Pakistan,” he said.