Pakistan federal minister Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo on Wednesday was a visitor in his pre-Partition home. When he landed at this native village of his family in Fazilka district, Wattoo found chief minister Parkash Singh Badal present to greet him. Claiming to be the "messenger of love", Watoo agreed to work on the CM's suggestion for more trade between the hostile neigbhouring countries.
"I do advocate the opening of more trade routes between the two Punjabs so that people on each side of the border can benefit," said Wattoo at a ceremony in his honour. "The matter is under the active consideration of the Pakistani government, and an early decision is likely."
"India and Pakistan should consider opening the Fazilka and Hussainiwala (Ferozepur) borders for trade and traffic," said Badal. "It will herald a new era of economic development in the region and promote people-to-people contact in the subcontinent."
The opening of bilateral trade through the proposed points would help business in both the east and western Punjab, especially, said Badal. "Since Independence, the people on the border areas of both countries have lagged behind. If the borders were opened, these would emerge as business hubs."
The opening of the integrated check post (ICP) at the Attari-Wagah border has set the bilateral trade activity in motion, said Badal, adding that the fillip would come only if the Fazilka and Hussainiwala borders were also opened. "It will also strengthen the socio-cultural ties among Indians and Pakistanis and open new avenues for even farmers," he said.
The veteran politician recalled his college days in Lahore and shared these memories with the gathering.
CM declares Rs 8 lakh for Wattoo's old school
The chief minister also announced a grant of Rs 8 lakh for the upgrade of the infrastructure at the village primary school where Pakistani federal minister had studied. He along with Wattoo and his family also visited the ancestral home and old school of the Pakistani minister.