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East, west Punjab agree to set up joint business committee

Posted on Nov 06, 07:15PM | IANS

Though an international border separates east and west Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan, their leaders Tuesday agreed to set up a joint business committee for greater trade ties between the two sides through the Attari-Wagah land border.

The decision was the main offshoot from a meeting between Indian Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore (Pakistan) Tuesday, an official said here. Badal is on a four-day visit to Pakistan to boost trade ties between two Punjab provinces.

Badal announced that the first meeting of the committee, comprising politicians, industrialists, traders, progressive farmers and others will be held in Amritsar next month.

Sharif accepted an invitation from Badal to chair the committee's maiden meeting and to be the chief guest at the final of the third edition of the World Kabaddi Cup to be held in Punjab.

Addressing the meeting in Lahore, Badal said, "Economics is the name of the game in the 21st century and economics can expedite strengthening of ties between India and Pakistan."

Citing the example of the success of the European Union (EU), Badal said India and Pakistan, which had strong emotional ties, should further enhance commerce and trade.

Describing opening up of trade through the Attari-Wagah border as a "turning point" in the history of both countries, Badal hoped that by Dec 31, the negative list of trade items would be eliminated or drastically reduced, opening new vistas of trade and commerce between the two countries.

He also sought the opening of the Hussaniwala and Fazilka border check points in Punjab for trade with Pakistan.

Badal sought the opening of visa clearance centres at Amritsar and Lahore for the benefit of people and traders from both sides.