Secret agencies such as Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) will not matter, if people in both east and west Punjab are ready to embrace each other, local legislator Saroop Chand Singla has said.
The chief parliamentary secretary (excise and taxation) of the state is back from a friendship and business mission to Pakistan. On Sunday, he spoke here about his experiences of the visit under the leadership of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
"There are great opportunities to flourish trade between the two Punjabs," Singla said. "The people on both sides want good relations between the two states. We have notified many potential areas for trade."
Asked if the ISI could be a problem in trade between the two states, Singala said the common history and culture would defeat that design. "Agencies such as the ISI can be neutralised if people of the east and west Punjab want good relations with each other," he said. "If people want peace and love, the ISI will not matter."
The CPS hoped that the Pakistan government would remove all the Indian items off its negative list for trade. "Both countries will benefit from free trade," he said. "All our trade is now via Dubai, which increases the cost and lower the profit."
Sukhbir's team had also discussed opening more trade doors, especially from Ferozepur and Fazilkam, with the west Punjab leaders, said Singla. Replying to a question on the flow of drugs from Pakistan to Punjab, Singla said the deputy CM had raised the issue prominently on the tour.
"We have a good response on the drugs issue from the leaders of west Punjab," said the CPS. "We hope to solve the problem in the next round of negotiations."
Singla also expressed satisfaction over the maintenance of gurdwaras in Pakistan. "We only visited Gurdwara Nankana Sahib during our stay in Pakistan," he said. "Its management and maintenance has improved a lot in five years."