Islamabad: The trade talks between Pakistan and India "indicate the growing strength of those who want peace for an economically prosperous and thriving South Asia", said a leading daily that noted the region cannot make full use of its economic potential unless peace is given a chance.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is accompanied by business leaders of more than 100 Indian companies, is on a four-day trip to Pakistan that began on Monday.
An editorial in the Dawn on Wednesday said: "India and Pakistan have made considerable progress towards normalising trade relations since the resumption of commerce secretary-level talks in April last year, which had been suspended after the 2008 Mumbai bombings."
"India has agreed to dismantle all Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers. Pakistan is switching over to a small negative list of non-tradable items and is discarding the positive list that allows trade in less than 2,000 items."
In September last year, Makhdoom Amin Fahim became the first Pakistani commerce minister to visit India in 35 years to finalise a road map and timeline for liberalising bilateral trade.
Both countries are committed to more than doubling their direct trade to $6bn in three years.
"The visit of Anand Sharma, India`s first commerce minister to tour Pakistan in 64 years, is expected to quicken the process," the editorial said.
"That 120 top Indian businessmen are accompanying Sharma for meetings with their Pakistani counterparts shows a common resolve to overcome obstacles, despite the fuss being created by a small minority that is against a thaw in India-Pakistan ties," it added.
The editorial went on to say that the "talks also indicate the growing strength of those who want peace between India and Pakistan for an economically prosperous and thriving South Asia".
"There is increasing realisation in Pakistan, as there is in India, that the region cannot make full use of its economic potential unless peace is given a chance.”
"And what could be a better of resolving political and territorial disputes than normalising bilateral trade? After all, a convergence of economic interests does make it easier to negotiate and agree upon solutions to other issues."
It observed that the road to an economically prosperous and politically peaceful South Asia is not without difficulties. "The journey can be cut shorter if, in the words of Sharma, Pakistan and India decide to hold hands."