India issues visas to 30 Pak traders for Mumbai expo

  • Harinder Baweja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 27, 2014 01:10 IST

In a fresh sign of engagement, India Tuesday cleared 30 visas for Pakistani businessmen scheduled to visit Mumbai for a trade exhibition ‘Made in Pakistan’ on August 31.

The thaw comes 10 days after the government had called off foreign secretary-level talks after it objected to Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit holding talks with separatist leaders belonging to the Hurriyat Conference.

Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh had called Basit on August 18 and told him she would not be able to make it to Islamabad for the talks if he met the separatists. India had objected to what it called ‘’interference in its internal matter.’’

Within ten days of sending out the clear message of ‘we won’t talk to you if you talk to the separatists,’ the ministries of external affairs and home cleared visas for Pakistani businessmen to attend the single-country exhibition for Pakistani garments, textiles, sports goods and jewellery.

Nearly 300 Pakistani businessmen are slated to attend the exhibition. This will be followed by another event in Delhi on September 10. More visas are expected to follow.

Pakistan was not sure if the visas would be issued or the exhibition too would fall victim to the no-talks policy that had escalated tensions between the two neighbours. Ceasefire violations too followed the no-talks announcement, ratcheting up tensions on the LoC and the international border.

The granting of visas is being viewed positively and many in Pakistan are now waiting to see if trade will be the new diplomatic tool to take ties forward.

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