With the coming up of the Wagah integrated check post (ICP) near Amritsar, Punjab now desires for another land route to Pakistan via the older Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur district that was shut down during the 1971 war.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal would set the tone for this demand at the Friday’s (April 13) inauguration of the Wagah ICP in the presence of the central ministers of both India and Pakistan.
A 35-member trade delegation from the Pakistan side of Punjab would also accompany the Pakistan’s union commerce minister Mohammad Amin Fahim with their proposals to further boost the bilateral trade through the land route.
With a punch line— mutual trade interests by softening the borders would help in maintaining peace in the sub-continent, the Punjab government is already preparing a road map for the re-opening of the Husainiwala border in Ferpozepur district, Punjab home secretary DS Bains told HT.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal would also press hard upon his Pakistani counterpart Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to put in efforts for the re-opening of the Hussainiwala border.
At least 100 trucks carrying the dry fruits, plums and pomegranates from Afghanistan and Pakistan used to pass through the Hussainiwala check post in 1971 when the war between the two nations led to its closure.
The Indian traders at that time had been exporting the rice shelling equipment and the farm machinery to Pakistan and beyond through the Hussainiwala check-post.
“It was then a matter of 45 minutes for the commodities of mutual trade to cross over via Hussainiwala, but now it takes 45 days for the same through the ports of Gujarat,” Bains said.
The Punjab government is also making an assessment of the potential to export petro-chemicals to Pakistan via Hussainiwala, with the emergence of the Bathinda oil refinery and several ancillary units mushrooming around,” the Punjab home secretary said.
Bains said Punjab aspired for Ferozepur as a major hub for the petro-chemical traders once the ancillary units around the Bathinda refinery deliver 100 percent production.
The Hussaniwala project would also help in the revival of the common culture of Punjab in that region, he said.
“The people to people trade would also help in bringing the communities of both the nations back to on the common cultural platform where the traditional attires like Punjab ‘jutti’ of Kasur were still in great demand.