ISLAMABAD: High Commissioner of India Ajay Bisaria has said India follows a neighbourhood first policy to engage for mutual benefit with its neighbours and thus its relationship with Pakistan is of key importance.
“It is uniquely challenging. Both countries share deep historical, cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic bonds. They face similar economic challenges”.
The Indian high commissioner expressed these views in an exclusive message to DNA and Centreline journal. Centreline journal is a sister publication of DNA news agency.
Bisaria further said despite roadblocks, humanitarian and trade exchanges between the two countries must continue.
India remains a popular destination for medical tourists from Pakistan while thousands of members of divided families visit each other. According to a recent World Bank report, trade potential between the two countries stands at $37 billion per annum.
“Our common enemies remain poverty, illiteracy and disease and not each other,” Bisaria said adding in the long run only sustained peace and shared progress will allow India and Pakistan to focus better on their domestic objectives of prosperity.
He further said while the present trade between the two countries stands at around $2 billion, there is room for leap forward once barriers are broken, in an atmosphere free of distrust and violence.
The high commissioner added humanitarian initiatives occupy an important place in building trust between the two countries and the Kartarpur Corridor is one such initiative.
To commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in 2019, and respecting the Sikh sentiments, the two countries have agreed to build a ‘corridor of faith’, with modern facilities for smooth visits of pilgrims from India to the holy shrine at Kartarpur Sahib.
“I am certain this vision will drive the relationship between India and Pakistan,” he said. While talking about the upcoming Indian elections he said nearly a billion people will vote in the May polls.
India has 1,841 registered political parties, 82,900 registered newspapers, 882 TV channels, and 1,600 languages and dialects.
“It is possible to achieve inclusive economic growth, without sacrificing democracy and diversity, without compromising on the values of pluralism and tolerance, which are the core values of our society,” said Bisaria .
Giving an overview of economic situation he said the FDI inflow between 2000 and 2018 now stands at US$555 billion. Many major flagship initiatives have been launched over the years, including Make in India, Digital India, Skilled India Mission, Swatchh Bharat, Smart Cities, amongst others, offering enormous opportunities to foreign investors.
“These reforms resulted in India recording a jump of 65 positions in the last four years in the ease of doing business ranking, with a rank of 77 among 190 countries as assessed by the World Bank,” informed the diplomat.
He also said India is the third largest startup nation with an average of at least 5 startups being founded every day.
“The genius of our people has transformed India,” said Bisaria adding this year India is slated to become the world’s fifth largest economy at $2.6 trillion whilst having a GDP growth rate of 7.6%.