India to engage Nawaz govt soon, says envoy


ISLAMABAD, June 27: Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal has said that India will soon engage the government led by Nawaz Sharif in dialogue in an effort to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries. Mr Sabharwal met the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and informed him about the progress made by the two countries in various areas.

He said that in the last two years India had improved its visa regime and now Pakistani citizens were allowed to visit 10 cities. “The visa regime has been relaxed both for businessmen and other people of 65 years or more,” Mr Sabharwal said.

He also informed the JUI-F leader about the progress made in the field of bilateral trade. The trade relations had improved because of the better environment provided by the two countries.

“This is an achievement,” he said and expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders in the two countries for making this possible.

On his part, Maulana Fazl lauded the Indian move to relax its visa regime but said Pakistani travellers were still facing numerous difficulties both on the border and inside India. He said the Indian authorities should relax visa and travel restrictions further.

He welcomed the growth registered by the two countries in bilateral trade and took the opportunity to clarify his stance on the matter. “I did not oppose the WTO’s recommendation for granting most favoured nation (MFN) status to India, but there are two outstanding issues — Kashmir and the water dispute — that have hampered the normalisation of relations between the two countries,” he added.

The Maulana said the water dispute had a direct bearing on Pakistan’s agricultural, industrial and trade sectors, and would not allow the two countries to benefit fully from their massive potential.

The Maulana urged the top leaders of the two neighbouring countries to show maturity and resolve their outstanding issues.

Afghanistan also came under discussion during the meeting. The Indian High Commissioner told the JUI-F chief that because India supported reconciliation in Afghanistan it had welcomed the Doha peace initiative.

Maulana Fazl said that Pakistan was directly affected by the situation in Afghanistan and urged all countries in the region, including India, to encourage the US to engage meaningfully in the Doha peace process.

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