LAHORE – Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Friday stressed the need for establishing strong trade links between India and Pakistan, saying that the volume of trade among countries determined the strength of their relations.

“When we look at the world we see that relations among the countries develop through trade,” he observed while addressing the Pakistan-India Media Conference 2012 held at the Lahore Press Club.

He said economies of both the countries were growing proportionally and there was need to remove barriers in the way of enhanced trade like other countries had done.

Speaking in the same context on the occasion, PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr informed the participants of the media conference that the existing negative list for India would come to an end by December.

Later, replying to a question, the information minister said that modalities of issuance of visa to senior citizens at the entry point in the two countries would be soon settled.

Talking about the role of the media in promoting friendly relations between India and Pakistan, the minister said that the media should play a significant role in creating an enabling environment where the two governments could take decisions without taking pressure in the interest of both the countries.

Kaira was of the view that disputes could never be resolved through fighting wars and that the two countries could solve their problems only through negotiations. He said that when the two nations separated, some elements wanted to create tensions among them that further aggravated the problems. “We have learnt from past experiences that both the countries should continue the process of further strengthening relations and they should not let it derail in case of on any untoward incident,” he said in an implicit reference to the Mumbai incident.

The minister said the the Pakistan government had given relief to Indian TV channels and India should also reciprocate by showing flexibility for Pakistani channels. “Sports activities should be promoted between the two countries to further ease tensions,” he suggested.

Jehangir Badr, in his address, said that peace between the two countries meant peace in South Asia and peace in South Asia would ultimately lead to global peace. He said that the negative trade list would come to an end in December, as an agreement had already been reached between India and Pakistan after which free trade would start between the two countries.

“The media can play a vital role in finding solutions to problems instead of merely discussing the issues.” said Badr, adding that the media should formulate suggestions to help the two countries come closer.

He said that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto wanted to create a South Asian Parliament like the European Parliament where solutions to problems could be found. “People-to-people contact is important to change the vision of our younger generation,” he added.

Chandigarh Press Club President Sukhbir Singh Bajwa said that media interaction should improve further and misunderstandings on both the sides should be removed. He said that the young people from Pakistan and India, who were undertaking studies in the media, should be provided with opportunities to interact with each other.

He also stressed that steps should be taken to speed up the visa process to end the woes of people desirous of visiting the two countries. SAARC Chamber of Commerce Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik, Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari and General Secretary Zulfiqar Mehtu were also addressed on the occasion.