Sukhbir likely to visit Pak next month
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With India and Pakistan agreeing to trade around 6,000 entities through the Attari-Wagah border, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is likely to head a business delegation to the neighbouring country, to further enhance trade ties, in the first week of next month.
Highly placed sources said Sukhbir will visit Pakistan along with a delegation from the state, to meet the industrialists there. Modalities for allowing the trade of more items will be worked out during the proposed trip.
The deputy chief minister said Punjab chief secretary Rakesh Singh had recently visited Islamabad and added that Pakistan has decided to also allow the export of an equivalent number of items through the Karachi port. With enhanced trade, the cost of items, the neighbours import from each other, is likely to fall considerably. Most of the trade between India and Pakistan is currently conducted through the Mumbai and Karachi ports - pushing up costs and eating up time due to shipping. India currently exports vegetables, fruits and livestock to Pakistan and imports cement, gypsum, dry fruits and other items from its neighbour.
Sukhbir's proposed visit comes in the wake Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik handing over a letter addressed to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to a delegation of Indian lawyers who were in Pakistan recently, inviting Badal and his deputy to join the official announcement function declaring Hasan Abdal, near Rawalpindi, as a 'holy city' since it houses the gurdwara of Punja Sahib. There is a proposal to plan Sukhbir's trip during kabbadi Asia Cup. Last time, Iran had hosted the event, which Sukhbir had attended.
The deputy chief minister, however, had cancelled his trip to Canada that was to begin from September 10. Sukhbir was to head a state delegation to participate in the Canada-India Agriculture and Food Processing Forum. Official sources attributed the decision to the unavailability of the Canadian Prime Minister around the time but there are indications that Sukhbir cancelled the trip anticipating strong opposition from radical Sikhs.
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