Make a bold move
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Thanks to the recent initiatives of Zardari, much progress has already been made on issues relating to economic cooperation.
Many new proposals are on the anvil. These include cross border petroleum trade, the extension of an oil pipeline from the Indian Punjab to the other side, connecting the electric grids, and the lifting of restrictions on banking and investments to name a few.
Trade liberalisation and modernisation of the infrastructure at Wagah-Attari on the Radcliffe line have created much excitement in both Punjabs. It has also raised expectations for similar openings on the Rajasthan-Sindh border. Others too can be imagined on the Gujarat-Sindh border.
Beyond trade facilitation, India and Pakistan can consider joint development of special economic zones on their long and undisputed international border. Expanding connectivity and transit to third countries present themselves on the agenda after the normalisation of trade relations.
While the prospects for easing the procedure for business visas is at hand, the two sides should consider more comprehensive visa liberalisation, especially for religious travel and people with familial connections across the border.
India and Pakistan had come close in the past to clinching agreements on such difficult political disputes as Siachen and Sir Creek. With a bit of political will and luck on both sides, they can be finalised by the time Singh arrives in Pakistan.
Above all Singh and Zardari have an opportunity to revisit and finalise the draft agreement on Kashmir that was negotiated during 2005-07.
Put simply, there are plenty of agreements that can be finalised in the run-up to Singh's visit to Pakistan. The only question is how much of this expansive agenda can be acted upon, given the constraints of time and circumstance on the two leaders. For his part, Singh must convey to Zardari his readiness to move as fast and as far as the Pakistan president is willing to go.
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