Pakistan’s top industrialist, Mian Mohammed Mansha, believes it is time for his country and India to resume trade and improve relations for their betterment.
Mansha, who heads conglomerate Nishat, Pakistan’s No.1 business group, told The Indian Express from his current location in Dubai that there are “many synergies” between the two countries that can come into play. game once the trade has started.
“I feel very passionately that we have to sort out our issues with India. Now, whatever issues are getting in the way, let them be there. But once they enter each other’s country, through from commerce, from tourism – religious tourism or normal tourism – I think the doors will start to open,” said 81-year-old Mansha.
He said the Kashmir issue should be resolved in “small steps” to “bring down temperatures”. He also talked about opening up Bollywood to Pakistani actors and Indian IPL to Pakistani cricketers.
Earlier this year, the industrialist, considered the most influential voice of the business community in Pakistan, called for the resumption of trade with India during a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lahore.
Reiterating statements he made at the meeting, Mansha, whose business ranges from textiles to cement to automobiles, said that if India could continue to import from China despite its border issues, it would not There was no reason for Pakistan not to resume trade with India.
“I think there is nothing better than having good relations with your neighbours. And you can’t change neighbours,” he said, pointing out the benefits that importing from India would bring to Pakistan.
“I am a businessman. That is why I say if something is cheaper in India, why should I buy it from another country? The transportation cost is less (from India)”, he said. “There are so many products that we could buy. We (Nishat Group) make Hyundai cars. Hyundai India is very big. We could buy some parts cheaper in India than in China, for example. And you also trade with China so heavily. Your imports from China are huge, and if you look at that, you also have problems with China on the issue of territories and all that.
Trade between the two countries declined after India doubled tariffs following the Pulwama attack in February 2019. Later, after India’s rulings in J&K in August, Pakistan ceased its trade with India.
Last year, days after Pakistan’s mighty military said it had a “geo-economic view” of South Asia – Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa highlighted in a speech – Pakistan announced that it would start restricted trade with India for cotton and sugar. . However, the decision was abruptly reversed after several then-Imran Khan government ministers objected.
Last week, Imran Khan was removed from his post as Prime Minister by the country’s parliament. Although Mansha said he had not met Shehbaz Sharif, the new prime minister, for three or four years, he was aware that Sharif was not against resuming trade with India.
“What I think is we have to move forward on resolving the Kashmir issue, we could take small, small steps. I think we have to lower the temperature,” he said, pointing out the “Musharraf formula” which paved the way for inter-LoC trade and bus services allowing families on either side to meet, interact and do business with each other, although other measures such that the reduction in the military presence on both sides had not taken place.Mansha also spoke of the opening of flights from Sharjah as an indicator of Kashmir’s tourism potential.
On trade, Mansha said a start could be made with Pakistan importing cotton from India and exporting cement.
“I am in the cement. We have a big factory, in Chakwal district (Punjab province in Pakistan) where Mr. Manmohan Singh was born. We even kept the school he attended. You don’t have limestone in Indian Punjab and the border regions, so it’s much cheaper to buy Pakistani cement. We used to export a lot of cement to India, until all this trade stopped abruptly. So it’s not a bad idea if we could import cotton and export cement to India,” he said.
“I also deal with cotton textile companies, where we want to use Indian cotton. And we also grow a lot of cotton and now we buy cotton from Afghanistan, and so many other countries that we import. Our cotton seasons are slightly different. When you grow cotton, we don’t grow cotton at that time. It would be very nice if when our season comes, you could buy it from us. And when yours arrives, we could import it from you, rather than paying shipping costs from other countries,” he said.
Mansha said investments should also start. “For example, if Tata invests in Pakistan, you will have employees here… and I think the interconnections are created”.
There would be hawks on both sides, he acknowledged, but cited the 1978 Camp David accord between Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat as an example of breaking mistrust and distrust. ‘hostility. He also mentioned the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was treated with suspicion at first, but which was beneficial for Mexico, the United States and Canada.
The cultural relationship between India and Pakistan, he said, was also important. “Indian movies are coming to Pakistan and Pakistani dramas have been seen in India… Some of our actors have had better chances in Bollywood… but the most important thing we have to start is that our cricketers should play in your tournament IPL. And yours could come to the PCL. Cricket is big business now,” he said.