The economic opportunities in context to cultural and geographic links between Pak-India have never been highlighted. Perhaps, this is due to political tensions and mistrust that has mounted over the years. However, to ensure regional progress, trade diplomacy seems to be the only viable solution against this arms race. Our arguments are mostly based on the assumption that it would destroy the domestic industry of Pakistan. Pakistan Pharma has shown tremendous growth in comparison to India over the past few years and there has been a rising demand of Pakistani medicines in other countries.

These countries previously relied on Indian products. So the Indian fear is justifiable in terms of mass production capability, exports capacity, low prices and the market penetration. Does that mean we may never be able to compete? Will we always have to enjoy the comfort of protectionist approach? With limited ability to produce special medicines, the high cost of production, and high prices, the ultimate sufferers are our consumers.

Whereas India enjoys lower labor and production cost, a well established network of laboratories and R & D infrastructure for new drug development, access to pool of highly trained and skilled scientists, both nationally and abroad. I am not making a comparison of the industries as it simply cannot be done. But if bilateral trade is encouraged, Pak-India will enjoy same trade terms as India and China. Joining hands in research can bring huge benefits.

Sensing competition, our pharmaceutical companies will respond to it by adapting effective marketing strategies. We have to make a number of internal modifications and open trade with foreign investment can prove to be a success story of South Asian Regional Integration. FDI should also be encouraged, in the Pharmaceutical sector, so that India can get access to Central Asian States.

DR. SHIMAIL DAUD,

Lahore, June 11.