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India, Pak to script new chapter

punjab Updated: Apr 13, 2012 18:23 IST
Aseem Bassi
Aseem Bassi
Hindustan Times
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With a hope for better trade and economic ties with Pakistan, home minister P Chidambaram will formally inaugurate India's first Integrated Check Post (ICP) at a gala function here on Friday.

It will be a historic moment when dignitaries from both the nations will formally throw open the new gate that connects India and Pakistan.

With this ICP being seen as crucial step towards economic ties between India and Pakistan, a battery of dignitaries will be reaching here to be part of the function.

Besides home minister P Chidambaram, commerce minister Anand Sharma, minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur, minister of state for home affairs M Ram Chandran, minister of state for planning Ashwani Kumar are expected to attend the function.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, along with other leaders from the state, will also be present.

Since, the inauguration of the ICP is a historic moment, guests from across the border including Pakistan's commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Pakistan Punjab's chief minister Shahbaz Sharif will be reaching Indian side of the border for the function.

With an aim to give fillip to cross-border trade, both the countries have come up with the ICPs. Built on 118 acres, the Indian ICP has the capacity to accommodate about 600 trucks, has new storage godowns, wide roads, plush passenger terminal and fitted with 233 CCTV cameras.

On the contrary, Pakistan has not built a matching infrastructure and has its ICP spread over just 9 acres with not many facilities in place.

Both the ICPs are now connected through new gates and the trade has already started through them. Although there was an arrangement that the new gate will also see the passenger movement, but Pakistan till now has not agreed on this and is sending passengers from the old gates only.

Secretary, border management, AE Ahmad, said, "The ICP will be formally operational on Friday. Till now, Pakistan has not agreed on passenger movement through the new gate. Talks are on in this regard and certainly both countries will reach a consensus on this."

On allegations of exporters that they were not taken into confidence while finalising the rates for new ICP, Ahmad said, "The issue stands resolved. An ad hoc arrangement has been settled with traders and soon a permanent solution will be reached. Things are going on smooth now."
Keeping in mind the high profile function of Friday, the authorities made a full-dress rehearsal on Thursday. The new gates have been decorated, mounted BSF jawans and police band were seen at the border. A big stage has been set up at the ICP for function and traders in big numbers are also expected to participate.

Although new gate is operational for the some days on trial basis, but it will be formally thrown open on Friday.

India largely exports vegetables, soyabean, cotton to Pakistan, whereas the neighbouring country sends in dry fruits, gypsum and some other products through the road route.