ISLAMABAD: Indian High Commissioner Dr T. C. A. Raghavan on Tuesday said normalising relations with Pakistan was essential for his country to achieve its economic growth targets.
The high commissioner was speaking at a roundtable conference arranged by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Dr Raghavan said a stable neighbourhood is integral to India’s economic growth.
He recalled that India recorded highest growth rates between 2004 and 2008, a period of relatively calm ties with Pakistan.
The high commissioner said the breakthrough in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany, would open up new opportunities for South Asian cooperation.
The envoy said rather than traditional sectors, the new economy of hydrocarbons, health and medical tourism etc. offer more opportunities for cooperation. He said it was important for India and Pakistan to treat each other as trading partners.
Speaking to mediapersons after the conference, Dr Raghavan expressed hope that Pakistan-India ties would move forward from the current stalemate during the Saarc summit next year.
After a break in bilateral contacts over tensions along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, the Indian foreign secretary, Dr S. Jaishankar, visited Islamabad last month.
At the roundtable discussion, the foreign secretary said he had not come with any demands for re-engagement or followed a predetermined agenda.
Following the secretary’s visit, both sides said they would reflect on the discussions on the way forward. However, one month after the foreign secretary’s visit, the Indian high commissioner said the two countries have not managed to put together a concrete list of issues to be discussed at their next bilateral dialogue.
Referring to the issue of terrorism and extremism that continued to bedevil ties, he said: “Real issues need to be dealt with perceptions to change.”
Emphasising the importance of resolving the problem of terrorism and extremism, Dr Raghavan called for imagining the state of India-Pakistan bilateral relations if the Kargil episode of 1999 and the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 had not taken place.
He rejected the parallels drawn by some quarters between Mumbai terrorist attack and Samjhota bombing saying while both were bad, Mumbai attack was a case of cross-border terrorism, Samjhota was an incident that happened inside India.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2015