Pakistan and India’s banks are set to open their branches in each other’s countries soon, according to business giant, Mian Mansha. With so much bad blood between the countries, this move could create public panic. The argument being made is that it is just business. The central banks of both the countries have completed the necessary work and are waiting for a green signal from New Delhi and Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seems to be on board. Pakistan and India will allow three banks to set up branches in the other country in an attempt to normalise trade relations.

This can be seen as a positive step, if the gains from trade are positive for Pakistan and the banks can help with ease the flow of goods and money. Security and political policy must be separated from economic policy - that despite Modi’s vocal ire, we can continue to export goods to India. India gives us a huge market, low transport costs and low transaction costs. There is huge potential for even small and medium sized business to export to India. Arguments for trading with India have to be economically sound, even if they don’t feel politically correct.

However, the question that needs to be answered is: Is opening trade with India in the geo-strategic interest of Pakistan? We should not be rushed into this by business tycoons like Mian Mansha and our own PM Nawaz Sharif. These men have huge commercial interests in India, and they may be jumping the gun. The Sharif’s have always given preference to business interests in Pakistan, at the cost of politically sound policy. With our national focus being terrorism, election rigging and Metro Busses, these deals go under the radar. Of course there is merit in the pragmatic idea that trade and commercial ties can be fostered irrespective of political or ideological differences. China has executed this with Taiwan and Japan very successfully. But, will Pakistan as a whole benefit from increased commercial, banking and trade links with India, or are rich men from the Punjab just doing what they can for personal monetary gain?