Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif seemed very much enthusiastic about doing trade with India. In a meeting with Indian businessmen, he stressed that it could lead to economic prosperity and also that wars only bring chaos.

However, the pitfalls of trade with our eastern neighbour should not be ignored. We would be doing disservice to the cause of Kashmir, which must be settled in accordance with the will of the people, as enshrined in the UN resolutions. All along it has been our firm stand that the resolution of Kashmir is a condition precedent to trade with India. It is unfortunate that both the government and the main opposition party in the country are now for developing trade ties with it without any meaningful progress having been made on the disputed state. This attitude must change.

Besides, Pakistan’s industry and commerce, already reeling from long blackouts and gas shortages, is not in  a position to face an influx of Indian goods. It would act as a last straw that broke the camel’s back. Secondly, it has been observed that the export of products especially vegetables to India also have caused the prices to go up dramatically inside the country owing to their shortage. There is only a small segment of the traders that might be the beneficiaries but overall, the disadvantages outnumber the advantages. In the recent past the government was planning to buy food products from India as part of the bilateral trade. In fact it is pure complacency on the government’s part to realise that what the Indians are doing is to deliberately reduce our share of Indus waters. The Indians are destroying our agriculture by building scores of dam in the Valley and in return would be selling us their food products at exorbitant rates. It is a pity that our leaders refrain from censuring New Delhi’s construction of over 60 dams on the Indus. Moreover, it is also possible that the supply of food products from across the border would be cut off as a pressure tactic. First, if we are so sincere towards the business community, it should be ensured that they enjoy uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity. If our local industry is not even able to cater to the domestic needs and consumer demands, what would be achieved from engaging in trade with India?