NEW DELHI: “Economic ties are bound to hit snags perennially in an unpredictable political environment.”

This was said by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit while addressing the Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation (FIEO) at New Delhi Wednesday.

The High Commissioner was invited by the organisation to speak on the challenges facing Pakistan-India relations.

The High Commissioner said that Pakistan had always wanted a normal relationship with India as peace was not only in the interest of the two countries but also in the interest of the region as a whole. He added that unilateralism and preconditions were a recipe for gridlock in inter-state relations. He expressed the hope that India would revisit its position as it defied logic to be locked in a perpetual conflictual relationship.

The High Commissioner also dwelt at length on the reasons that did not allow the two countries to bring mutual hostility to an end. He said the root cause of all the bilateral problems was the longstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He emphasised that “aspirations of Kashmiris can neither be ignored nor suppressed; the sooner it is realised the better it would be”.

On issues related to bilateral trade, Mr Basit said there was huge potential between the two countries. Nevertheless, it was necessary to have a level playing field with a view to make trade mutually beneficial. He said non-tariff barriers on the Indian side were adversely affecting Pakistan’s exports to India.

Earlier, Mr. Ajay Sahai, Director General and CEO of FIEO welcoming the High Commissioner stressed that there were enormous economic opportunities between India and Pakistan and that the two countries must work together in the interest of their respective peoples. He also assured the High Commissioner that his organisation would continue playing its role in this regard.